Youth give game a spike, says Bermuda coach
The head coach of the Bermuda women's national volleyball team is optimistic over the future of the sport, citing the increasing numbers of junior players on the island.
Elisabeth Rae led the Island Girls to a bronze-medal finish at the Bermuda Open at Warwick Academy last weekend.
The Island Girls finished third in the eight-team event that included four sides from Canada and two Bermudian junior teams.
“Volleyball is growing and developing really quickly,” Rae said. “It's exciting to see more and more junior teams. In this tournament we had a senior women's team and two junior teams, which is the first time we've had two junior teams. So there's more kids getting into the sport and more of them playing at a higher level.
“We're getting more of our ex-national team players moving into coaching at the junior and high-school level, which is making a significant difference.
“We don't have a club system, because there's not enough volleyball in Bermuda to run separate clubs, so the national team runs basically as its own club. We're involved in high schools, so we recognise the high school/middle school players, bring them into the club-type programme, get them training and then they progress up as they age.”
Rae was also happy with the event as a whole, with the visiting Canadian teams enjoying the hospitality and it giving the locals the chance to showcase their skills to potential college recruiters from Canada and the United States.
“I think we're all really happy with how things have gone and I think all the visiting teams are really happy with Bermuda, with the tournament, with the level of play,” Rae said. “They're able to play good volleyball and see a bit of the island over a long weekend. We've had players in the past get scholarships and had players get identified by college coaches at events such as this, so hopefully we'll be able to attract other university teams down to see our kids and to give them that opportunity.”
Bermuda are now focusing on the NatWest Island Games in Gotland, Sweden from June 24 to 30 and Rae was keen to stress the positives of getting involved in volleyball — on and off the court.
“Volleyball is a complete team sport,” she said. “You're only as strong as your weakest player.
“You cannot be a team of one. It teaches people to work as a team, so when you move on into the corporate environment, you're a team player.”