In only its fourth year, the Inter-regional Beach Volleyball Championships, held this past weekend in the Cardiff Beach Volleyball Centre, is ‘a gift that keeps giving’ says founder of the Inter-Beach events, Tournament Director and Great Britain International coach and former player Denise Austin.
64, U18 players from across England and Wales competed for the title, 32 boys and girls each in a squad of four, and two teams in each regional squad competed in the dual event formula. The No.1 and No. 2 pairs from each squad compete and if they both win their matches the dual is over 2-0. However, if it is 1-1 in matches, a golden set to 15pts decides the winner. Many regional coaches mixed up their teams for the golden sets which made it very interesting and added another dimension to the format.
Of the 112 matches forming the 56 duals, 23 duals went to the golden set, including both matches in the Boys and Girls Final. It’s a testament to the depth and strength of character of all the competitors, the format means your No. 2 team can take you to the tie breaker and more often than not surprises do happen, especially under pressure in the shoot-out final golden set. ‘It’s exactly what young athletes need, experiencing the weight of the moment and being able to play with freedom to enjoy what they are doing!’ We love the formula and even though it’s nerve-wracking, once they experience the events, everyone is really embracing the atmosphere and experience.’
Bronze medals were taken for the first time on the podium by Yorkshire Boys who were very competitive through the tournament, beating Wales 2-0 in the final. Last year’s silver medalist South West GIrls took home bronze this year, after beating the most improved region of the tournament East 2-0.
In the Gold Medal Matches Wales Girl’s No. 2 pair with the 2-1 win in the Dual, kept Wales’s dreams alive 1-1 and took them to the Golden Set.The inform Wales, looked like they were almost ready to take the title at home. However, the combined pairing of Darling and Z.Tucker scrapped their win 15-13 in the finals against South Wales Pair No.1
Similarly in tenacious style in the Boys U18 Final, the No.2 pairing from London kept their dreams of the title alive with a thrilling three-set win over S.E. no.2 pair to take them to the Golden Set. However, SE looked very calm, experienced under pressure and took the golden set 15-11. Emily Levich was also a standout player, who took part in the first IRB event back in 2019, this was her final year.
‘It’s lovely to see players from the IRB being selected for their first beach International event, the Inter-Beach Event at the end of July. We have six nations taking part for the first time, with Gibraltar sending teams for the first time. We will see Young teams from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.’
‘The Inter-regional Beach Volleyball Championships are very much part of the pre-performance pathway for any athlete wishing to represent England, Wales and Great Britain’. The opportunity to play for your country on the beach can be limited by numbers, only two players get to compete in a junior European or World championships, and depending on your proximity to beaches and beach clubs it becomes an even harder task. By creating this format we are aiming to help provide an exit route for young regional programmes and their athletes, the backbone so to speak of their beach programmes.
Denise Austin and IRB Team firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos: Richard Beales email@example.com
Under 18 Women’s Pairing and Results
|5th||LON p.2||C.Manfredi Cruz/E.Soledad|
|6th||YOR p.1||D.Djiegoue Tchandeu /F.Rydberg-Buccoliero|
|6th||YOR p.2||K.Ngatcha/T.Alahendrage Don|
U18 Mens Pairing and FInal Results
|3rd||YOR p.2||Cosgrove/Maurice Cox|