Vic Beach Volleyball Academy (VBVA) officially launched a ‘Mentor Program’ over the weekend (28th Jan), introducing its top academy prospects to competitive game-play with and against some of the best former and current players in Victoria.
“Whether it’s as competitive, court-smart opposition, or helping put the positional awareness the kids learn in training, into a game situation… even just an older, wiser voice of calm.”
The VBVA Mentor Program – the first of its kind in the country – was created in order to give the best young players within its academy an opportunity to put the skills, technique and court awareness learned in training into practice beside players who have the experience to help them hone those skills. From former International players Cathy Norman (AUS), Oliver Cole (AUS) and Shawna Farquharson (ENG), to current internationals like Yupa Phokongploy (THA); along with a host of past and present national tour players, and wily old locals.
“The program is aimed at giving our best young kids the opportunity to learn from current and past greats of the game,” said VBVA Head Coach Brett Middlin. “Whether it’s as competitive, court-smart opposition, or helping put the positional awareness the kids learn in training, into a game situation… even just an older, wiser voice of calm. These kids are like sponges; super keen, fantastically appreciative sponges and they’ll soak up any suggestions their mentors can offer.
All of the kids who will be invited to train with the mentors have already dipped their feet in open age national tour events, and are pushing the best players locally. They just don’t yet have the ‘smarts’ to beat their older opponents, but with this initiative, they’ll be in a far stronger position to compete; especially considering the depth of court intelligence that comes from international players like Cathy (Norman), Oli (Cole), Shawna (Farquharson) and Yupa (Phokongploy). Throw in the likes of Marta (Slawuta), Sandy (Hope), Danny (Bishop), Linda (Hamilton), Eric (Gelt), Steve (Kay), George (Atrache), Josh (Lawes), Cori (Wilder) and Bleachy (Shane Ralston) and others, and you’ve got a huge amount to offer the best kids coming through.”
The official launch gave VBVA Tier 1 players Alba Skellern and Lucia La Terra the opportunity to play alongside and against top past Victorian players Linda Hamilton and Sandy Hope.
“It was a fantastic opportunity,” said Lucia following the mentor session, “we don’t usually get to play against the best, unless we play on the national tour… this program will bring the top current and past players to us. We (alongside VBVA partner Laura Pangrazio) were fortunate enough to play in the SA Open national tour event against Yupa (and partner, Olympian Mariafe Artacho Del Solar) in January, and now we’ll have that option regularly… along with so many other awesome players!”
The VBVA hopes this new initiative will help give what is its strongest group of young players to date that little extra resilience when competing against the best players in the country.