Higher Education Volleyball Officer (HEVO)

A record number of 80 students are helping to grow their favourite game by putting on recreational Volleyball into universities in England. The students have taken up roles as part of Volleyball England flagship scheme to increase participation in the sport in the country.

Each of the students is a Higher Education Volleyball Officer (HEVO) at their university for the 2017-2018 academic year. The HEVOs run weekly recreational Volleyball sessions across their 70 universities, which are separate to competitive university teams, as an enjoyable and sociable way for fellow students to play Volleyball, regardless of their ability. As well as providing regular Volleyball sessions, HEVOs are required to report participation figures to Volleyball England and to develop two students as officials through the Grade 4 Referee Course as well.

This is the seventh year of the HEVO initiative, which has become highly successful at encouraging more people to get involved in the sport. The statistics from last year reveal just how much the HEVOs do to grow the game.

Thousands of students took part in the recreational Volleyball sessions each week with 50 players on average at each HEVO session. Over a third (37%) of participants in the sessions went on to join and represent their university Volleyball team. Perhaps most promising of all, over three quarters of all HEVO players said they want to keep playing Volleyball after leaving university, and many also showed an interest in offering more to the sport through refereeing, coaching and volunteering. The HEVO scheme has been so successful in England that other sports have emulated the model.

Each HEVO is given training at a conference, which takes place at England’s National Volleyball Centre in Kettering, on how to deliver weekly Volleyball sessions. The weekend conference gave practical Volleyball training and inspiration on how to develop their individual projects. Each HEVO also receives a grant of £150-£300 to buy equipment, as well as Volleyball England branded hoodies and polo shirts. Some of the HEVOs have no experience of playing Volleyball before taking part in the conference.

Matthew Harrison was a HEVO last year and will continue in the role at Edge Hill University. Already a keen volleyballer, Matthew saw the HEVO scheme as a chance to give something back to the sport. “I do own a coaching degree so I thought being a HEVO was the perfect opportunity for me, so I put myself forward and went to the HEVO conference to do all the training about how to put on the Volleyball sessions.

“I was one of two HEVOs at Edge Hill. There were a range of abilities that would come along to our sessions and I enjoyed the challenge of designing sessions that appealed to everybody. It was great having two of us, as it meant we could float around and help the players in different ways. For participants who had never played Volleyball before, we could do simple drills we had learned at the HEVO conference, while with the more advanced players we could use training drills I would use at my own training sessions for the university team.”

While Matthew was doing a fantastic job in helping develop Volleyball in England, he has also developed his own talents that will help him in the future. “I am definitely more confident in speaking in front of groups of people,” says Matthew. “I have also developed my coaching abilities, not just for Volleyball but for the other sports I coach too. There are loads of transferable skills you learn being a HEVO.”

From CEV

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