Volleyball is going from strength to strength in the local area again after a council initiative to rekindle interest in the sport.
The programme proved so successful following a move to the Jim Watt Centre in Garvagh organisers decided to form a team.
“As part of the of the council sport and recreation programme, we decided to move the existing Junior volleyball programme from Coleraine Leisure Centre to the new facility in Garvagh,” Club Coach, Jonathan McFadden of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s, Active Communities team told Times Sport.
“Volleyball is a fantastic team sport and has had a long term connection with the Garvagh area, which has produced some fantastic volleyball players in the past.
“After speaking to a few friends and old team mates we decided to link in a over 18 recreation senior session after the junior club had finished, the idea was it would be good to just all play together again.
“This started in September 2015 and we decided to attend a friendly competition at UUJ in November, after a good showing and finishing third overall we decided we weren’t as far off the pace as we thought and contacted NI Volleyball about league opportunities.
“With anything new like this, it took sometime to get numbers attending but on average we are getting 12-15 people at training each week. With a mix of four or five under 18 players and 8-10 senior players, both male and female.”
Jonathan and the other coaches were delighted with the response they got with a good mix of experienced players and beginners turning up for the sessions.
“It’s pretty much a 50 -50 split, we have a group players that played volleyball a various levels throughout their life and complete newcomers to the sport,” he said.
“This mixture of old and new has allowed to form a team of both experience and youthful exuberance.
“The club started last September, but really I would say we have been training with competition in mind since November 2015.
“At present we have a Men’s team in the Division 1 of the NI Volleyball league with a few seasons of playing competitively at this level, our ultimate goal would be to gain the experience to allow us to move up to National League level.
“With regards club development we would like to eventually have two male teams and a female team.”
Garvagh Phoenix made its return to competitive action last week taking on Neighbours Ballymoney Blaze.
The Garvagh side put on a good show in front of a decent crowd at the Jim Watt Centre.
They pushed the visitors all the way in the first set going down by just two points in the end.
The Phoenix continued to battle hard in the second but slipped by nine points as the Blaze won 25-16.
Ballymoney also won the third but it was a good first showing from the new side as they took the game to their opponents.
Organisers are hoping to encourage more local people to take up the sport.
“Volleyball has been an Olympic sport since 1964, on average players jump 300 times in match and it is the second most popular team sport in the world, second only to Football!
“The club is open to everyone both Under 18 and Over 18 male and female.
“We would encourage everyone no matter what their age and ability to come along to club training, Thursdays 7pm to 9pm at Jim Watt Centre, Garvagh.
“In particular we would like to invite female players to attend training as our immediate pan is to form a female team over the next 6 months to enter into next seasons NI Volleyball Women’s 1st Division.”