Day 7 Media

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Russian sitting volleyball squad in Paralympic action (RIA Novosti/Iliya Pitalev)

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Sitting volleyball at the London 2012 Paralymic Games continues to thrill crowds at the Excel and around the world. With hopes for the game’s popularity to grow after the Games, UK Sport reflects on the support given to the international governing body, the World Organisation Volleyball for Disabled (WOVD).

Sitting volleyball match at East Africa Cup 2012, in Moshi, Tanzania

Every visiting team taking centre stage at the Sitting Volleyball Court could mistake their match as a home game, as enthusiastic crowds cheer the fourteen countries competing.

Strategic direction for sitting volleyball
The game is now played by athletes in more than 50 countries around the world, and last year UK Sport worked with the WOVD to support the strategic direction of international sitting volleyball through the training of officials from Sub-Saharan Africa. The objective was to help strengthen the delivery of high quality and inclusive sport in the region.

Sport Director Denis Le Breuil held training for sitting volleyball officiates in Rwanda and reports that since then, all trained officials have now gained international experience, following invitations to events across the continent.

The drive to develop officials in Sub-Saharan Africa comes as interest in the game continues, especially where, in countries like Rwanda, sitting volleyball has been employed as an activity to rehabilitate and integrate former child soldiers and groups affected by conflict.

The classification of officials will ensure that new players joining WOVD activities play in accordance to international rules, so that the sport develops within governed structures.

During the week training course of officials, local referees also had the opportunity to meet officials from different competing nations. The result is the formation of a Women’s teams in preparation for an All Africa Women’s Championship next year.

Denis believes that supporting the sport in Sub-Saharan Africa will help bring more teams to the international stage, asRwanda becomes the first Sitting Volleyball Team from the region to send a team to the Paralympic Games.

“One of the key elements of the Sub-Saharan Qualifier was the way it raised the status of the players – and the respect with which they were treated, particularly as Rwanda Qualified for the London Paralympics,” said Denis.

The development of the sport and the successes are also helping reform wider social mindsets and attitudes towards athletes with disabilities, as WOVD were able to raise these issues with the Rwandan government.

International Development Officer at UK Sport, Clare Barrell, commented, “UK Sport is delighted to have partnered with WOVD to deliver grassroots training in Rwanda and assist WOVD in reaching their vision of seeing sitting volleyball as the world’s most popular sport for persons with disabilities”.

Visit the WOVD website 

131830175_11n.jpgChristoph Herzog (Top) of Germany digs the ball during the men’s sitting volleyball quarterfinal against China at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Britain, on Sept. 5, 2012. Germany beat China 3-2. (Xinhua/Chen Yehua)
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