Archive for October, 2014

Asian Girls (U17) Volleyball Championships – part 1

October 7, 2014

Currently I’m in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand with the Australian Youth (U17) Girls team preparing for Asian Championships, which starts in 4 days. After travelling with the Junior Women (U19) in July and both groups in April, this is my 3rd tour and I would have spent 7 weeks away from work and overseas.

Thailand is a cool place volleyball wise. It’s the most popular sport for women and a popular spectator sport (after Soccer of course). The national women’s team has enjoyed great success in recent years with a  win at Senior Asian Championships and 4th place at World Grand Prix last year. As such they’re quite popular with sell out games and have their own TV Show.

For the first few days we’re training at Sura Nari Wittaya school – a school with 4000 students, which has put about 100 players into the women’s national team including the current captain. The teams here are really good. We played the Sura Nari Wittaya school team today and lost in 5 sets.

Generally we train twice a day, or once a day if we have a game (or trial match). It’s a more demanding workload than a lot of players are used to back in Australia. It’s a good coaching staff to be a part of. Everyone has good general skills but also specialist skills for this level of competition. My job is to do a lot of the video/statistical analysis and scouting work, but for now while we’re in preparation, I get to help out in trainings hitting downfalls, chipping free-balls and coaching a side in scrimmages. The Head Coach Nam is also master of quite a few coaching trades (he pretty much can do all our jobs) having assisted the senior women’s team for a long time and a practical joker. Bill, who by now I’ve worked with on countless teams is tour manager, but helps out in trainings and takes some stats during games. He’ll be on the radio from he stands. The last member of the team is Anna, who at 21 still has the playing fitness to jump on the court to help out in scrimmages and as a final year physiotherapy student acts as the team’s trainer. It’s a good set of skills. Not every team that tours gets a physio and/or performance analyst.

The players have been great so far and quite professional. It’s easy to forget they’re still young. At this age, they have less competing demands on their time and we have been lucky to get all 12 players we initially selected.

We play our first game on Saturday against the Philippines.

The Sura Nari Wittaya School gym. I've never seen anything quite like it. There's no walls on the long sides so it's well ventilated. No Doors on either end - you can walk right through. It;s fan friendly with two banks of seating, loudspeakers along the ceiling and lights.

The Sura Nari Wittaya School gym. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There’s no walls on the long sides so it’s well ventilated. No Doors on either end – you can walk right through. It;s fan friendly with two banks of seating, loudspeakers along the ceiling and lights.

I love it how gyms in Thailand are built for spectators. In this case a modest scoreboard. If there's a scrimmage it's not unusual to have a couple of kids hanging around watching and updating scoreboards.

I love it how gyms in Thailand are built for spectators. In this case a modest scoreboard. If there’s a scrimmage it’s not unusual to have a couple of kids hanging around watching and updating scoreboards.

There's a Video Ezy in the small town we're competing in. Random.

There’s a Video Ezy in the small town we’re competing in. Random.

The kids from the school training before us washing the coach's car because they lost the scrimmage.

The kids from the school training before us washing the coach’s car because they lost the scrimmage.

On the school bus travelling to the training venue

On the school bus travelling to the training venue

The mall complex where we will be competing. There's a lot of shops, a water amusement park and what appears to be a "magic mountain" styled water feature.

The mall complex where we will be competing. There’s a lot of shops, a water amusement park and what appears to be a “magic mountain” styled water feature.

Preparing for our trial game against the school team. We lost 2-3. They're really good!

Preparing for our trial game against the school team. We lost 2-3. They’re really good!

The brass band practising. Yep that's about 4 Glockenspiels under the verandah. There were two girls practicing rifle drills with wooden rifles around the corner.

The brass band practising. Yep that’s about 4 Glockenspiels under the verandah. There were two girls practicing rifle drills with wooden rifles around the corner.

The national league team training after the trial game. There's about 5 national team players from this club team including the current captain,

The national league team training after the trial game. There’s about 5 national team players from this club team including the current captain,

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