City of Edinburgh Volleyball Club was named Local Club of the Year at the 2016 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sport Awards having increasing participation in the sport by more than 100 per cent in 18 months.
The Queensferry High School-based club, led by head coach Ian Brownlee, picked up the accolade after encouraging children of all ages and abilities to take part in the sport.
Ian was inspired by the work of clubs in France and Finland and decided to mirror their successful style in Scotland. Children are encouraged from a young age to take part in the Baby Volley programme, for P1 to P4s, and are given the opportunity to progress through the ranks into senior sides.
Ian said: “I have met so many amazing people in my local community through my involvement at City of Edinburgh Volleyball Club. I have learnt so much from coaching, especially a team sport, that has really helped me develop and understand other people.
"We hope that youngsters get as much out of the sport as we do, helping them become more confident and making new friends whilst keeping fit.
“It’s a privilege to work with the team at City of Edinburgh and I am very proud of everything that we have achieved over the last year, especially since it was our 20th anniversary. Not only did we make history in the Scottish National Cup Finals by making it to all six major finals, but our Men’s National League team have entered the European competition for the first time. Winning Local Club of the Year is the perfect way to end 2016.”
The team was nominated for the Local Club of the Year award - sponsored by sportscotland - by Lynne Beattie, Scotland and Team GB star from London 2012.
As one of Scottish Volleyball’s regional development officers, Lynne knows exactly what it takes to become the best of the best. She explained that right from the start of her journey in post two years ago, she always knew there was something special about the team.
She said: “City of Edinburgh Volleyball Club is an inspiration to all the clubs out there that hard work certainly pays off. The club has come a long way in such a short period of time - their passion, drive and motivation has to be applauded. That’s why they certainly deserved my nomination in this year’s Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sport Awards.
“It’s always a pleasure to visit the club and I enjoy being able to share my story with the younger kids. I hope they all have the same chances I had growing up and I like to think that I encourage them to believe that anything is possible. I am delighted for City of Edinburgh VC and hope that they continue to shine in all that they do.”
The club have also added a programme which is designed to retain talented children throughout their teenage years. By encouraging them to become qualified UKCC coaches, through sportscotland funding, they have created a self-sustaining model which runs the junior development programmes.
Bob Wyllie, sportscotland lead manager in the Edinburgh region, said: “City of Edinburgh Volleyball Club is a prime example of a team that has ambition and people who are determined to fulfill their dreams.
“After Ian visited a volleyball club in Finland that was flourishing with members of all ages and abilities, this inspired him to replicate this style of club in Scotland. By setting ambitious membership targets and devising a plan in how they were going to grow the club, Ian and the team strived to create the perfect environment for all participants – which they have successfully achieved.
“The club has built strong relationships with key staff at the Scottish Volleyball Association and City of Edinburgh Council’s Active Schools Team. Congratulations to everyone at City of Edinburgh Volleyball Club on their well-deserved win.”
Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, added: “Sports clubs play a key role in delivering sporting opportunities within communities and helping aspiring young participants and athletes develop and learn.
“These local organisations underpin Scotland’s world class sporting system and I am delighted to see City of Edinburgh Volleyball Club win the 2016 Local Club of the Year Award, sponsored by sportscotland. The way they support local causes is a great example to other community clubs across Scotland.”
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Everything you need to know about the 2017 Sunday Mail sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards.