The following report is from 365 BRISTOL NEWS:
Volleyball in Bristol – Getting to Know Bristol Bad Cats
Bristol might be European Green Capital this year but what we want to see is for it to thrive as a healthy City for all of its residents. That often starts with getting the kids as active as possible in their early years and Bristol Bad Cats are helping with this by promoting Volleyball in Bristol. We met up with the man behind Bristol Bad Cats, Matteo Pazienza to find out more!
When was Bristol Bad Cats set up and what is it all about?
We started about one year ago when we realised there were few chances to enjoy playing volleyball in Bristol. It is about increasing the popularity of this sport as lots of people don’t know about it, or barely know how to play. This is unbelievable for us: volleyball is one of the most played sports in the world! … And first of all is our passion. We want to spread it.
We went to secondary schools and proposed to run some sessions to let kids give it a go. Last March we also started a Sunday mini volleyball course focused on Primary school children.
Are you from Bristol? What about the players, are they local, national or international?
No, I’m not. I moved here in October 2013 from Rome. I knew Bristol as a tourist and I liked it, wanted to have an experience abroad and here I am. I believe it is a great city to live in.
Players are mainly local as we work especially in schools or with children, but we have a good group of people from abroad. In one of the schools we do volleyball at, we always play England v Poland. It’s good fun! Polish people are very keen to improve their skills. They say that if they go back to Poland and aren’t good enough at playing volleyball, they are misfits… It’s the national sport there!
How’s it going?
Not bad, not bad. For us setting up all this is already an achievement. It is a big effort starting something from scratch, but it’s definitely worth it. This doesn’t mean we are satisfied though. We are constantly in the pursuit of ways to get more people involved, especially youngsters, as we believe that they are the ones who can change the fact that volleyball is a secondary sport: they are the grassroots!
It is not easy. There is some diffidence sometimes towards volleyball from schools and parents and there is as well some confusion about it (“is it a ladies only sport? “Is it an Olympic sport?”) but we want to clear it and change this mentality.
We have planned some activities that will run this summer, so I recommend keeping an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages and like/follow us.
We see you are getting help from Sport England and Volleyball England. Is this allowing you to take the sport into schools in the City?
Volleyball England supported us a lot at the beginning helping us to set everything up, prepare the documents, understand our needs and our aims, and people at the office are always willing to help. Unfortunately the activities we run in schools are something we have had to manage by ourselves, by contacting and meeting the teachers and deciding what to do and how to do it. Of course, it would be fantastic to have greater support and easier access to schools to bring volleyball in, but I suppose this managerial aspect is a necessary step for a small club that wants to grow.
We hope Sport England will help us too as we are about to apply for a Small Grant. We will have then the opportunity to enlarge our offer and set up a competitive team. This would be a major help!
Mini Volley looks great for the kids, how about some Beach Volleyball courts around the parks in Bristol?
It is great indeed! They really enjoy it. It is a way to introduce volleyball skills and do some physical activity. They also laugh a lot… and so do I.
Beach volleyball courts: this is something I was thinking just last week and it would be absolutely amazing to play in the parks here! As far as I know, at the moment the only way to play is going to Weston-Super-Mare or paying for an indoor beach court at Bath University. This is a shame: I am sure that these courts would be very popular within the community.
I was also thinking about schools actually. Some of them have hectares of fields with 5 or more football pitches that become all muddy when it rains. That’s a bit of a waste. Wouldn’t it be better to have some sand and play on there instead? It would also be great for different fun activities like beach soccer, beach tennis…
I don’t know how much would it cost honestly, but it is surely worth the expenditure.
Where do you see Bristol Bad Cats in 5 years time?
5 years is such a long period, but let me think… I enhance my volleyball knowledge everyday, but this is not all. I am studying to become also a Strength and Conditioning coach and this will add quality to the club. Therefore I see a well-working minivolley base, with two Junior teams participating in different competitions and fighting for a place in the national finals, and a senior team playing in the National Volleyball League. It sounds a lot to do, and it definitely is, but we are ambitious and they are not impossible achievements.
What advice would you give to amateur Bristol sports clubs in need of more members, funding and support?
I don’t think I am in the position to give advice to other clubs. I still have a lot to learn and do. The only thing I can say is just keep working with passion and spread it to your members. Word of mouth is probably the strongest publicity. Social networks are fundamental too: there are lots of groups you can advertise on and increase your visibility for free.
Regarding funding, writing a successful application for a grant is not an easy task but National Governing Bodies are always available to help, so don’t be afraid to ask them.
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