With another exciting year in the life of World ParaVolley coming to a close, World ParaVolley President Barry Couzner looks back on the major developments for the World ParaVolley organisation and the sport of ParaVolley as a whole.
“When I look back at 2018 I see a year of change, progress and development.
We progressed towards being a truly athlete centred organisation in three ways. First a new Athletes’ Commission structure was established. Secondly, athletes will be represented on the newly-formed Rules of the Game Commission for Sitting Volleyball and thirdly, two athletes will be elected to the board as voting members for the first time, one male and one female. However, we can be more athlete-centred and further investigation must occur on how this can be achieved.
On the competition side we held two very successful World Super six events in I R Iran (men) and in China (women); we contributed to the Invictus Games in Sydney and in the Netherlands the World Championships were conducted with 32 qualified teams across five different cities with a focus on playing matches on the stages of theatres for the first time. Korea hosted a World ParaVolley event – their first ever – the Final Qualifier for the World Championships and they did a very professional job.
We conducted several development activities with the support of the IPC and the Agitos Foundation, one held in Korea and one held in Mozambique. These activities continue to develop our coaches, referees, officials and classifiers. Importantly the Sao Paulo Development Centre in Brazil was approved following an inspection and recommendation from Joe Campbell – this is our second Development Centre.
World ParaVolley has achieved conformity with the IPC classification code and the WADA anti-doping code, these being important pre-requisites for continuing participation in the Paralympic Games. Thanks to Medical Director, Louise Ashcroft and her team for these achievements. In addition, we have begun a working relationship with the FIVB that will bring future benefits to our athletes.
We have been working on ParaVolley Beach (Standing) events for 2019 with one event confirmed to date – the first World Series event in Ping Tan, China. Other 2019 Beach events are still being negotiated. The Board approved the Beach strategy developed by Dr Stephen Giugni OAM, as Assistant Sport Director – a strategy that will lead us to possible participation in the LA 2028 Paralympic Games.
Our bid to the IPC for Sitting Volleyball to be included in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games was successful. However, the potential to increase team numbers at this event is quite low.
The 2019 World Super 6 events will be held in Japan (women) and I R Iran (men) and also in 2019 the Zones will conduct their Zonal Championships that qualify teams for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. A most important event is the Parapan American Games to be held in Lima, Peru next year that will be the Qualifier for that Zone.
Unfortunately three people retired in 2018 who were all given Life Membership at the 2018 GA as a tribute to their volunteer dedication and commitment to World ParaVolley. In fact the total number of years that these three Life Members committed was 95 years – I refer to Denis Le Breuilly, Gaby Lotan and Toralv Thorkildsen. This also meant that 2018 was a year for new leadership and I welcome the new Chairpersons and members of the various commissions, the new Sport Director, Laurent Torrecillas and the new Communications Manager Richard Baker and I look forward to their valuable contribution in the future.
Our World ParaVolley membership continues to grow and in 2018 we had 51 members – a record thanks to the great work of General Manager Phil Allen.
Dr Hayat Khattab, President of ParaVolley Africa, received the IPC Women in Sport Award for her work in Egypt and for World ParaVolley – this is a significant Award and well deserved.
Joe Campbell, President, ParaVolley Pan America, was appointed to the Board of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame – a great honour and a significant step for ParaVolley since to date, no ParaVolley athlete or Official has been inducted in the Hall of Fame.
Much to do
I think that whilst we achieved a lot in 2018, the job is not finished as 2019 will provide many challenges:
- The development of ParaVolley Beach (Standing) events and human resources
- The establishment of “Technical Forums” for athletes, coaches and team staff in order to give these groups a greater “voice”
- The establishment of new Development Centres in Africa and Europe
- Setting up on-line learning programs for coaches, referees, officials and classifiers
- Contracting more homologated equipment suppliers
- Successful fund-raising through the World ParaVolley Foundation
- Recording the history of World ParaVolley in an efficient and effective manner
- Structural changes for effective governance of World ParaVolley
I wish all individuals associated with World ParaVolley the very best for 2019 – this will prove to be another year of development and improvement!
Barry Couzner OAM
President, World ParaVolley