The 2015 Beach Volleyball Scotland Tour is underway and after the Grampian Open on Aberdeen Promenade and the Edinburgh Championships, it’s next stop Fife on 27th and 28th June for the St Andrews Championships. The third of seven tournaments in total taking place at different venues around Scotland throughout the summer.
We caught up with Lynne Beattie – GB captain of the indoor team at London 2012 and now with her eye on beach volleyball qualification for Rio 2016 alongside her role within Scottish Volleyball – for her reflections on the impact of the London 2012 Olympics on volleyball, and exciting times ahead for the sport in Scotland as it goes from strength to strength …
London 2012 left a sporting legacy across Great Britain inspiring people young and old to get active and take up sport. For 4 weeks, London was transformed and the nation united as it got behind its athletes with spectators glued to their TV’s or even better, lucky enough to get tickets for events in London themselves.
I write this article with 2 hats on. The first, one of an elite athlete currently competing in international beach volleyball and indoor volleyball. I was honoured to experience London 2012 as a Team GB athlete, captaining the Great Britain Women’s Indoor Volleyball team to a 9th place finish in our first ever appearance at an Olympic Games. I experienced first-hand, the power of the home support at London 2012, whether that was in the venue or at home with the ever rocketing popularity of the social media world. The impact that the spectator support had on us as a team was overwhelming. Knowing that our country was behind us drove us to leave every last ounce of energy on the court.
The other hat I wear is that of my professional full time job with the Scottish Volleyball national governing body with the role of regional volleyball development officer in the East of Scotland.
Whatever hat I am wearing, it is now 3 years on and I firmly believe that London 2012 has left a new generation inspired by sporting achievements and Olympic values demonstrated by the athletes and the city. Has Volleyball benefited from this legacy? My opinion is yes. Can more be done to capitalise on the opportunity? Yes. And this is something we are working hard to achieve behind the scenes by creating new and quality opportunities for people to experience volleyball for the first time, along with enhancing the current opportunities for existing players and spectators alike that are currently available.
From a volleyball point of view, the value of the London Games was demonstrated by the constant positive ‘chatter’ about volleyball not just from spectators who were regular viewers of the sport, but more importantly those new to the sport or who had never seen a live volleyball match before. These are the people we want to capture going forward.
London 2012 created the ultimate platform from which to promote and raise awareness of our amazing sport across the country, connecting people to a sport that is dynamic, energetic, and very much spectator-friendly.
In the past, volleyball spectators have been known to be predominantly volleyball people and their families, but thanks to London 2012 and more recently Olympic Qualification Tournaments such as the Beach Volleyball Continental Cup, volleyball and beach volleyball are riding on a wave of unprecedented popularity, particularly in Scotland.
For a lot of sports this time of year has already seen the season culminate in the form of league and cup finals, followed by an off-season for players to recover and rejuvenate before the new season kicks off. For volleyball players and fans across the country, however, there is no waiting around for months until the new season commences. Instead there is no rest for the wicked as the indoor season – which runs from September to June – rapidly transforms into the beach season taking place from May until August
One of the many attractions of volleyball is the fact that it is an all year round sport. For me volleyball is volleyball, whether you are playing indoors or outdoors. It is a sport that caters for all and one that can be played by anyone, just about anywhere. This is great for the development of players and spectators alike, with there always being something to take part in or support. We want to show people that beach volleyball is indeed a serious sport, with fantastic opportunities to play recreationally, being one of the most fun and sociable sports out there.
I know what some of you might be thinking … Beach Volleyball? In Scotland? Beach volleyball is an outdoor sport… FACT! Just like football, rugby, tennis, hockey. Do you ask the same question of these sports? Typically, when people think of beach volleyball they imagine, sun, sea and sand. In some cases this is the case, but a lot of the time, it a lot more than this. Beach volleyball is a huge attraction on the continent and all over the world. It was one of the fastest tickets to sell out at London 2012 where players played in front of a sold out 15,000 seater stadium at Horse Guards Parade. Beach volleyball has rocketed in popularity over the last few decades. In 1992 it was merely a test event at the Barcelona Olympics but by 2004, only athletics attracted more viewers. For Rio 2016, predictions are that it will be the most sought after ticket at the Games, with an atmosphere akin to football expected.
In some people’s eyes, beach volleyball is sold as a vaguely athletic beach party. However once people see the sport live, there is a really change in their attitudes that comes with an appreciation of just how demanding a sport it is, not only physically, but technically. They also get to experience the fantastic sporting spectacle and atmosphere that comes with a beach volleyball competition.
As we move into June, I am delighted to announce that there are plenty of opportunities to play and also watch beach volleyball events as the Scottish Beach Volleyball Tour continues throughout the summer, with the next stop the St Andrews Championships in Fife.
There has been a huge injection of entries on the back of recent international success by both our Men’s and Women’s Beach teams who have made history on the international beach volleyball circuit in their first ever appearance on the international stage. I hope that this achievement is a catalyst to boosting the popularity of our sport even further, replicating the legacy and the success of London 2012.
Get along to Fife on the weekend of 27th/28th June to see some top-level beach volleyball on display. Or … even better enter the competition via the Scottish Volleyball website. And to find out details of your nearest club click here.
So there you have it … opportunities to play a new sport that is thriving, as well as opportunities to watch it live. No excuses!
We look forward to previewing all the remaining legs of the 2015 Scottish Beach Volleyball Tour, followed by fixtures from the indoor season later in the year, via our Events! page. For a weekly update direct to your inbox, of volleyball and other great spectator sport taking place in your area, make sure you subscribe (for free!) to our weekly newsletter.
Finally, we wish Lynne and her teammate Mel Coutts the best of luck on the #roadtorio and their pursuit of beach volleyball qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympics. Follow them on Twitter @COUTTS_BEATSBVB for all the latest news.