On the next-to-last day of the 2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Final in Stavanger, a Sitting Beach Volleyball tournament was organised with participation of five teams accounting for 25 players. It was only the third time such kind of competition was held in Norway’s Beach Volleyball capital after a similar event ran in conjunction with the 2009 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and an exhibition match was played in 2014 when Stavanger hosted a Grand Slam tournament.
The major ‘star’ headlining the tournament was Erling Trondsen, a Sitting Volleyball pioneer in Norway who has been playing the game for more than 30 years, performing at many Scandinavian tournaments, including the Nordic Championships, as well as at the World Cup.
The competition was eventually won by the local team, Randaberg, but this is not what matters the most at the end of the day.
Audun Stensvik, who is responsible for the development of Sitting Volleyball at the Norwegian Volleyball Federation (NVBF), said: “Since Sitting Volleyball is an Olympic sport, we want to focus on its development and in order to achieve this goal we have designed a programme which focuses on participation. We first try to get able-bodied players involved, knowing that those with disabilities will then follow suit. We encourage Volleyball clubs across Norway to add Sitting Volleyball to their programmes, because Sitting Volleyball cannot be developed or initiated starting from nowhere.”
The idea is that the participation of able-bodied athletes will lay the foundations of a process that will soon inspire players with disabilities to join as well. “We know that people with disabilities rarely come forward and start playing Sitting Volleyball by themselves, so that is why our programme has been designed with a focus on participation also by able-bodied athletes. Today’s tournament was a milestone for us – the atmosphere was great, the surroundings were amazing and the weather was on our side as well, so we could not ask for more,” Stensvik continued.
“We initially had four teams set to enter the competition but one more signed up today. Many people stopped by to watch the matches, they took pictures and got to know what Sitting Volleyball and Sitting Beach Volleyball are all about, so even though there is still much work to do, at least for today we can say that our mission was accomplished.”