New sport to be showcased at festival

The Whitby Seafoods Junior Beach Classic will showcase volley volley for the first time. Picture: Ceri Oakes
The Whitby Seafoods Junior Beach Classic will showcase volley volley for the first time. Picture: Ceri Oakes

This weekend’s Whitby Seafoods Junior Beach Classic will showcase the first public game of a new sport that was created right here in the town.

Volley volley is the name given to an orginal, inclusive version of volleyball, the brainchild of North Riding Eagles coach Anthony Laffan.

“Volleyball in its traditional form is the world’s second most popular team sport and sitting volleyball has been successful in giving many disabled people the chance to play this exciting game,” Laffan said.

“I have however discovered that neither were exactly suited to many of the people I’ve had coming to our club’s ‘Volleyball For All’ sessions.

“Certain individuals’ needs differ and I was finding that for many people with special needs or disabilities sitting down was not an option.

“For others, their disability was not about mobility but it might involve restrictive over-arm movements.

“It was while I was working with one such player, Etienne Schroeder from Botton village, that I had the first idea for the new design for a more inclusive net.”

Coming up with the idea was one thing, but turning it into reality was another, and this was where Whitby-based net maker Steve Leadley came to Laffan’s aid.

The original prototype was not quite right, and it was Eagles’ elite national league players who benefited most from it as they used it for advanced drills.

Going back to the drawing board, Laffan and Leadley enlarged the holes in the net so there were three sizeable windows allowing some players to pass the ball through the net as well as over it.

Laffan spent time trialling the revised version of the net with his club players and members of Whitby Disability Action Group.

When Volleyball England’s Richard Stacey-Chapman visited an Eagles training session to find out about the success that they were having with inclusive volleyball, he was very supportive of the new idea and encouraged Laffan to push on and formulate the rules for volley volley.

Where possible, the rules remain the same as traditional volleyball, the main difference being that the ball can be hit through the net as well over it.

“The game is just played as normal, but at a faster pace and with different angles of attack and quicker responses required in defence,” Laffan added.

After the rules of the game were finalised, a third and final version of the net was designed, made and successfully trialled and the three variations of the net allow for adaptability according to skill levels of participants.

After a year of trial and error, the Eagles are ready to showcase their new style of volleyball at the Whitby Seafoods Junior Beach Classic, where a special match will be played at 1pm to mark the official launch of the game.