Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 18, 2016 – Although beach volleyball is going into its last day of competition, the activity at the Copa Courts shows no signs of slowing down as young children worked side-by-side volleyball stars from the Netherlands, Australia and Norway.
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On Thursday, Netherlands’ Marleen van Iersel carried out a clinic with around 20 children working alongside her coach Angie Akers from the US, an Olympic medalist in the sport. “The children are so enthusiastic!” said van Iersel. “There’s a really good energy here. It’s important for kids to do sports, no matter what they do, as long as they just move and know their own body.”
But it was a friendly match with the children that produced some of the more memorable moments for Angie Akers on Thursday. 10-year-old Camila Leite, refused to let Angie change sides when some participants had to pull out of the match. In order to ensure that she stayed put, little Camila – who plays in the CBV’s project VivaVôlei at Rio das Pedras in Rio – presented Akers with a shell. “It was so cute!” said Akers. “I really liked her, and that’s why I told her not to go to the other side and gave her a shell,” said the young Camila.
Australia’s Bo and Lauren Soderberg, athlete and beach volleyball coach, have been on the Copa Courts twice before to help mentor the children. “It’s great to give this opportunity to those kids. It’s awesome to promote connection, interaction and put a smile on their faces”, said Bo.
They were followed by Norwegian legends Bjorn Maaseide and Jan Kvalheim, who had an opportunity to relive their days on the competition courts during the centre court “Legend’s Classics” match on Wedneday night. “I was amazed by playing again with and against friends in the most beautiful beach volleyball arena I’ve ever seen”, said Jan.
This morning, he and his friend taught volleyball moves and tactics to children. “When I was their age, I didn’t even play beach volleyball. I was skiing and playing football. They have the whole world in front of them and they can become as good as they want to be”, observed Bjorn.
The clinics have certainly sparked the interest of youngsters on the beach. Yoav Rymer, 4 years-old who was with his older brothers, Daniel (8) and Ilan (11) said he loved playing with the athletes. “I really like volleyball. It was really fun”!
It is a positive sign that the Volleyball Your Way clinics are having an impact on the younger generation.
According to Diogo Jurema, development manager at the FIVB, the clinics, are in place to “inspire children and adults”. “It’s even better than the interaction with sports itself,” said Jurema. “The development of the sport goes through the engagement of the athletes”.