PIONEERS ACKNOWLEDGED on International World ParaVolley Day – 24 April 2022

On International World ParaVolley Day, 24 April 2022, World ParaVolley is pleased to announce the bestowing of Honorary Life Membership for 12 of the pioneers who set the foundation for the future development and sustainability of World ParaVolley.

These volunteers created the history of the International Federation and are being recognised only now with the highest Award possible – Honorary Life Membership – because the Award has only recently been created by the Board. This follows extensive research on the various contributions made by the pioneers, scrutiny by the Awards Committee, led by Denis Le Breuilly (a Life Member himself) and the final approval by the Board of World ParaVolley. Many recipients contributed to the development of both the Sitting and Standing Volleyball disciplines.

Congratulations and thank you to all the recipients – you created the history of World ParaVolley for the athletes!

Pieter Joon (NED) – for his decades of leadership as Founding President from the origins of the Organisation

Jenni Cole (AUS) – for leadership in the fields of Classification, education and governance

Anita Goltnik-Urnaut (SLO) – for leadership as a player and in the fields of management and governance

Athanasios Papageorgiou (GER) – for leadership in the fields of research, coaching and coach education

Gordon Neale OBE (GBR) – for leadership in the fields of refereeing, coaching, administration and governance

Hadi Rezaiegarkani (IRI) – for leadership in the fields of coaching and coach education

John Kessel (USA) – for leadership in the fields of development and coach education

Jouke de Haan (posthumously) (NED) – for leadership in the field of coaching and coach education

Sverre Bergenholdt (NOR) – for leadership as an athlete and in the fields of technical officiating, event organising, classification and governance

Rajko Vute (SLO) – for leadership in coaching and coach education, research, event organisation and governance

Wayne Hellquist (CAN) – for leadership in strategic planning, governance & marketing

Marie-Therese Scholtens (posthumously) (NED) – for leadership in governance and administration at the Zone and world levels

All Honorary Life Members will receive a Certificate and a special pin in due course at selected special occasions.

World ParaVolley President Barry Couzner OAM, said

“This acknowledgement of the tremendous work by the pioneers of ParaVolley illustrates clearly that the current volunteers inherited a sport and a sustainable International Federation that was planned, delivered and developed by others before them. It is significant that several former athletes are represented, and the fields of administration, governance, coaching and development are featured.”

Details of the careers of all recipients can be found at