Volleyball seeking spike in numbers
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
VOLLEYBALL has been experiencing a steady decline in participation numbers over the last couple of years but if more people show the enthusiasm for the game that Stuart Jemeson has, then a reversal in fortune is not far away.
A former pro on the US Beach Volleyball circuit, Jemeson has returned to Australia and is now calling Coffs Harbour home.
Jemeson admitted to being surprised at the dwindling numbers in the local competitions both indoors at Sportz Central as well as his preferred beach game.
But he's willing to put in the hard yards to get the game that he loves back on the sporting map.
"I think initially what we'll do is get into the schools and really start recruiting kids and pulling them in indoors or out onto the beach and really start honing some skills and having a look to see what we've got to work with," he said.
"If we're going to continue to be in the higher echelons internationally then we need to recruit them very young and start giving them a good grounding in the sport."
Not every student in the schools has the ability to be a world beater but the former pro says that the sport has something to offer for everyone who cares to dig, set or spike.
"Even for general health and well being, obviously there's a situation where we want to keep kids healthy and fit and get them out on the beach," he explained.
"Geez, how much of the population lives close to the ocean anyway?
"It seems like a perfect scenario between indoor and beach volleyball combination."
Jemeson's passion is undoubtedly for the two-man game played on the sand but decreased numbers at Sportz Central has the former pro concerned about where all the older players have gone and how to get them back as well as the juniors.
Last season there were only 16 teams entered compared to 30 a couple of years ago.
Encouragingly, 20 teams have registered for the new Thursday night season which is due to get underway in a fortnight's time.
A massive beach volleyball tournament over Easter is the main project that Jemeson is getting his teeth stuck into at the moment including clinics on both Good Friday and Easter Monday where kids can learn the skills from some of the best players this country has got.
Jemeson was quick in giving this advice to teachers when it comes to offering volleyball as a viable sporting alternative for their students.
"I'd say get behind giving the kids another way to exercise," he said.
Anyone interested in joining the new indoor season, or to enter a team, should get in touch with the local administrator Gavin Merchant on 0407 007 452.