Eldo on Tournaments and Junior Volleyball

This is a response from Eldo to my post on tournaments. He goes into junior league and state teams too. As someone who runs one of our SIV programmes, I didn’t expect Eldo to be such an advocate of club volleyball. The Skins International tournament, which he championed was an event that was largely targeted at clubs.

As expensive as the National Juniors will be for SA players travelling to Perth this year, we should be grateful that our state association puts a lot of effort into it without making any money out of it. As i’m constantly reminded, they don’t make a their bread and butter off of State League or Junior League either.

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This is a very important topic for volleyball.
There is far too much reliance on State junior volleyball in Australia. It is not the silver bullet. It is almost the thing we do because it is the easiest thing to do. We even made it bigger because it is the easiest thing to do and we could charge a premium for it. The fact that we have kids including 15’s 16’s and 17’s playing their first ever tournament at a national junior event makes our sport look ridiculous. You can always hear state volleyball parents in Albury saying “Cost Mary nearly $2,000 for this event and she is in the state team having only played the game for 3 months. The parents seem to think that their marginally talented kid is a wiz BUT what they need to understand that as a sport, we have got this all wrong and that these inexperience under arming serving marginally athletic State kids are a means to the financial survival of some state associations. Picking state teams at under 15′s level is more based on maintaining the financial viability of state associations than the development of players in my view. This event should be a club event.

It does not make sense that we do not have more club, team junior tournaments.

HOW MANY DO WE HAVE IN AUSTRALIA? Can we list them? I am not talking school tournaments here.

How many club based basketball tournaments are there? Thousands perhaps.

In Australia we present school volleyball well at a national level and in Qld and Vic, at a state level . This school success comes at a huge cost to club volleyball which is unfortunate because we lose lots of kids when school volleyball stops after year 12.

The reason being, as a kid who played state and school volleyball 20 years ago said to me.
“School volleyball is important and fun. It is rated – Club volleyball is not.”

As a volleyball coach and club administrator this view is most disappointing but unfortunately mostly true. It is not a position that as a sport we can move forward with.

At Heathfield we can find lots of junior coaches for school teams. We have people queuing up to coach and manage because they know there are quality experiences ahead.
We struggle (and I think all clubs are the same) to get club league coaches, league reserve coaches let alone junior league coaches to coach our teams. If the truth be known, 90% of the club teams are in junior league as training for the school comps.

That is why Norwood is ahead of the pack at the moment in junior volleyball due to the work of Dr Dan and the West boys.

Mt Lofty was indeed unable to maintain its “Reds” team for a number of reasons which was a huge blow to me and the club and is definitely a backwards step.

If we continue down the wrong path, the State School Cups and the National Schools Cup will only get stronger.

In the Lofty Skins events, if you take out the Lofty teams as the hosts we only had school teams training for the national schools cup. I suspect even with the attraction of unprecedented prizes and prize money, they were not there for the prizes but for trial matches for the nationals. (Pt Augusta being the exception). Are there kids who would have liked to play in the tournament? I bet there were. Did they have coaches, adults and managers willing to make this happen, I suggest not.
If I went to every League club in South Australia with a coach and manager for a team from the club to play in a tournament, I think I would get the players.

We need more club tournaments and we definitely need more club junior tournaments. It would be a great step forward is we made more money in our state associations through running tournaments than slugging the kids who represent their state in tournaments.

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