Last word….GB Libero Bertelli

I will never forget 12.37am on Tuesday 31st July, the moment Grace Carter got the block that won GB Volleyball’s first ever indoor Olympic match. What followed the next day was a great first set performance against the Italian team, a 9th place finish at an Olympic Games, a 100th cap for my country, a new world ranking of 21 for GB and our best ever results in a European Championships Qualifying competition.

None of the above can ever be taken away or can ever be disputed. What is clear though is that 2012, and the Olympics has well and truly gone. We should never forget, but in sport, you have to look forward or you will be left behind.

In my eyes, British Volleyball didn’t look forward to post 2012 – didn’t have plans in place  if UK Sport funding was provided (and we knew that would be a big IF, based on criteria of medal potential at Rio 2016) and; the more likely situation,  to have plans in place to build on the last 5 years, without UK Sport funding. Where were those ‘what if’ strategies – without them, the result; the worst of my sporting life is; that there is no British programmes (senior indoor, sitting or beach mens) going forward.

I can only speak for the women, we agreed a massive goal of our squad was to create a future for volleyball in this country and I can say hand on heart I don’t think we as players and staff could have done anymore. We delivered our best performances on the court when it mattered, we had our own ‘legacy’ goals and did our own specific programmes, we supported the home nations at events and initiatives and we were only ever positive about our sport (despite some very challenging times).

To be in the situation now whereby there will be no competing GB teams, as dramatic as this may sound, with 100% honesty, is soul destroying. Add to this, firstly; the debacle surrounding entry into the 2014 World Championship Qualifiers (Scotland & Northern Ireland home nations entered but due to being informed last minute England were unable to enter) a situation which should have been managed & ticked off months before. Secondly; the news that Volleyball England’s 2013-2017 strategy identifies that senior national teams will not be supported in the short to medium term.

I am sat here asking myself what the flipping heck has happened.  In international volleyball terms indoor and sitting disciplines have never been in the position we are now in terms of knowledge, expertise, experience, ability to compete and world rankings. We have never had our sport highlighted in such a way as we have over the last 2-3 years and yet, as an indoor athlete you no longer have the opportunity to represent your country at senior level. I can’t find words that do justice to how I feel about this.

Now, don’t for one moment misunderstand me…we have to increase the talent pool in this country and we need the appropriate structures in place to do that. I also know that there have been some massive decisions in my life relating to volleyball, the majority between the ages of 16 and 23 – at the time, I didn’t know it but they were all driven by my desire and goal to be an international volleyball player. During that time, I was inspired by seeing and playing alongside England players, I was driven to work harder and improve by the opportunity to be like them, to represent my country at senior level. I cannot think of another sport that does not have the opportunity to progress to senior level representation. For talented players, like I once was, who are they going to see? What is their goal now?

For the current members of the indoor GB squads (and those who were aspiring to move into the senior squads) the reality is they can no longer play at the highest possible international level. Personally, it’s an emotional subject; I’m an ‘all-in’ person and I believed we could achieve this transformation of our sport. My sole purpose of being a volleyball player was to  be the best I could be when I represented my country. I believe every athlete should have that opportunity, and all the amazing experiences and personal development it brings.

I think there a lots of reasons we are in this situation, lots of questions that I and you might have but when thinking about the future of our sport:

  • what is the BVF going to do now?
  • on what research, knowledge and evidence of success is the VE strategy to have no visible senior international teams based? There is so much evidence on the influence of role models, importance of seniors to aspire to etc
  • is indoor volleyball now purely a participation sport? is there actually a desire for senior performance teams?
  • when we didn’t have funding prior to 2012, GB men and home nation senior indoor teams were active and visible; why should we accept that without funding there are no solutions? Handball who are unfunded and receive less home nation funding than volleyball are currently playing Euro Qualifiers.
  • how do we/you keep talented youngsters in our sport, competing against other sports that can give them the opportunities beyond junior level – to represent England or GB, to travel, to experience, to grow as people.
  • does the British/home nation volleyball world care whether we have senior national teams? If it’s important, what can home nation members do?

I don’t have the answers. I have communicated with the powers that be, suggested that we cannot lose all the work that has been done, that we have to fight and try to find solutions. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity, and absolutely love, playing for my country. Never doing that again wasn’t something I had considered but the events of the last few months have led me to eventually accept that is the case. I will continue to work at giving back to our fantastic sport but on this subject this has to be the last word from me. Time to move on.

Posted in 2012, Beyond 2012, blog, Legacy | Tagged , , , ,

Maria Bertelli talks Sky Sports Athlete Mentor, GB and the Olympics

GB libero Maria Bertelli was a guest on BBC Radio Nottingham today to talk about her new role as an Athlete Mentor for the Youth Sports Trust as part of the Sky Sports Living for Sport programme. You can listen to the interview here (interview starts 2h23m) but we also asked Maria a couple of extra questions below.

Maria is one of 27 athlete mentor new recruits and getting the position was definitely not a straight forward task, as she explains:

 ”There were over 100 athletes who applied for the positions from all sports and all areas. We had to present ‘our story’ to each other followed by an interview. I am  proud to have got the role and am really excited to be able to be part of what is terrific programme. The programme is high quality, shown by the level of investment in the mentors, I have had 5 training days and shadowing opportunities to make sure I am able to share my own learnings and experiences to their maximum, to have the biggest impact on the pupils and projects we work with.” 

The programme is now in its tenth year and has the slogan of ‘changing lives’, we asked Maria if she believes it can really achieve this;

Absolutely, I do believe this. My sporting experiences have shaped me as a person, they have developed me and given me skills that apply in every area of life. From simple things such as organisation to focus, perseverance and both the hunger and confidence to achieve. If we can help children to recognise, develop and use such skills in their school, home or leisure environment then I really do believe it can change their lives”

It sounds like a programme to get involved in! Best of all it’s free to access and available to all secondary schools, it’s also very simple to enrol and has had fantastic results. Check out the website where you can find details and case studies which really show the impact it can have!  Get involved! Check out Maria’s profile.

Posted in Beyond 2012, Legacy, Media Coverage, Olympic Games | Tagged , , ,

23/24 February – Weekend Fixtures…


Formidable block by Carter…


Carter’s Stade Francais (8) v Beziers (4) WIN 3-1

Watch Grace Carter in action LIVE

Germany: League Action Continues… Livescore

Wick’s Aachen (11) v Dresden (3) LOSS 1-3

Michel’s Hamburg (6)  v  Suhl (10) LOSS 0-3

England:  National Cup Weekend

Goodchild’s Team Northumbria Men v Coventry/Warwick Riga WON 3-0


GB setter Jo Morgan…


Morgan’s Engelholm (2) v Sollentuna (9) WON 3-2


Beattie’s Hotel Cristal VFM (5) v Koniz (4) LOSS 3-1

Cooper’s Sagres NUC (3) v Volero Zurich (1) LOSS 0-3

Posted in Playing Abroad |

#Gameday 9-10 Feb – Battle of the Brits RESULTS

Saturday action….

Cooper v Beattie

Battle of the Brits in Switzerland takes scent re stage today. Ladycoach Cooper’s Sagres NUC have won 3 out of 3 so far this season, and will be looking to do the same today to help them keep their route towards a play-off final alive. Scot Beattie and her team VFM however, will be determined to make sure it’s not 4-0 for the season, especially with home advantage. All in all, should be a good game. Livescore here. BEATTIE’s VFM win 3-2

Its also big weekend for Dave Goodchild’s Team Northumbria in England with both men’s and women’s teams at the Student Cup finals at the University of East Anglia. could a double be on the cards? In the rest of UK, it’s National Team weekend.


France: Carter’s Stade Francais (9) v Nantes (8) 7pm UK  STADE FRANCAIS WIN 3-1

Germany:  League Action Continues… Livescore
Lucy Wick’s Alemannia Aachen (11) v Weisbaden (4) 6pm UK AACHEN LOSE 3-1
Ciara Michel’s Hamburg (6)  v  VCO Berlin (12) 6pm UK  HAMBURG WIN 3-0


Sweden:  League action continues..

Morgan’s Engelhom (2) v Falkoping (6) 2.30pm UK Livescore ENGELHOLM WIN 3-1

Posted in Playing Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Cooper recognised as inspirational coach in London 2012

GB Women’s Head Coach Audrey Cooper is currently coaching professionally, however, whilst she may be out of the country, she is not out of mind in terms of British coaching. Following on from her invitation to become a member of the prestigious FIVB Coaching Commission, Cooper has been identified as one of the most inspiring and quality coaches of the London 2012 Olympic Games. It’s not us saying it…two leading publications are…also see Captain Beatties comments at the bottom of this article.

The Leisure Review is a recognised independent industry magazine for professionals working in the management, development and promotion of all aspects of leisure, culture and sport. Their article reviews the quality of coaching on view during the Games across all sports (and is a good read) with the closing statement being:

The countless hours studying a variety of sports over the Olympic fortnight highlighted one coaching star, the aforementioned volleyball coach Audrey Cooper, the only coach in any of the “home nation picks” who won a game”.

Raed the full article here.

At the end of 2012, Sports Coach UK, the UK agency for coaching excellence, carried out research with their members about their views of the Olympics and Paralympics legacy. They asked them if there were any coaches they were inspired by and why?

The results are a combination of named individuals and teams of coaches; we are absolutely delighted that GB Women’s head coach Audrey Cooper is recognised as one of the most inspiring coaches of 2012. Remembering just how big a year 2012 was for sport, how many higher profile sports were successful and how much media attention surrounded those coaches, this is an outstanding achievement. Audrey is amongst some high profile names:

  • Dave Brailsford (cycling)
  • Audrey Cooper (volleyball)
  • Jurgen Grobler (rowing)
  • Peter Hannan (athletics)
  • Sharon Hannan (athletics)
  • Toni Minichiello (athletics)
  • Dan Pfaff (athletics)
  • Hope Powell (football)
  • Alberto Salazar (athletics)
  • Shane Sutton (Cycling)




The report shares the words identified when people explained why a coach was inspirational, broadly speaking, broken into three key attributes:

1. Relationships - building relationships, helping, motivating, communicating, positive attitude
2. Work Ethic - attention to detail, hard work, preparation, perseverance
3. Managing the Wider Environment - Controlling the controllables, managing expectations, creating opportunities

The recognition by fellow coaches from grass roots to elite, across all sports, highlights the talents and achievements of Audrey and we are ecstatic that her performances during the games were recognised and we want to wish her a huge congratulations. Read the full report here. GB Women’s Captain Lynne Beattie words…

Inspirational – Audrey Cooper

“I have heard lots of feedback about not just the team’s but Audrey’s performances during the Games and it’s great that this has been recognised not just within our own sport but across all sports and disciplines. We take it for granted but this is exactly how she was every day, over the 4 years she was in charge; focussed on the task, attention to detail, positive and forward thinking, uncompromising, passionate and most of all showed belief in her plan and us as a team of players and staff. Huge congratulations to Audrey, she is a great leader and asset to any team.”

Posted in 2012, Beyond 2012, Coaching, Media Coverage | Tagged , ,

2/3 Feb: Weekend Round Up – small margins win and lose!

It was another big weekend with some great action for the GB players at home and abroad, some really tight matches that went down to the wire!

Coach Goodchild looks on as TN pull out another win…

In England, it was cup quarter final time and Dave Goodchild’s Team Northumbria had double success with both men’s and women’s teams making it through. The women had a comfortable 3-0 win away from home against London Lynx (25-15, 18, 7) whilst the men beat Sheffield Hallam at home 3-0 (20, 22, 21). Wessex Women and Vicki Palmer won 3-1 at home against Polonia. See all cup results here.

Continue reading

Posted in Beyond 2012, Playing Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

BVF Statement – UK Sport funding

Yesterday, 30th Jan 2013, the British Volleyball Federation met with UK Sport to informally discuss the 2013-2017 funding decision announced in December 2012. The December decision identified that indoor, sitting and mens beach volleyball would receive zero funding based on an assessment against UK Sport ‘no compromise’ criteria for support. Find below the official BVF statement following the meeting yesterday… Continue reading

Posted in Beyond 2012, Team | Tagged , ,

BBC Video – ‘financially crippled’ by Olympics

BBC reporter Nick Hope talks to GB Women’s player Rachel Laybourne on the importance of funding for our sport and the young athletes coming through. Rachel sees these athletes on a day to day basis as part of her job at Boswells School in Essex. See the video by clicking on the image on the left!

Posted in 2012, Beyond 2012, Media Coverage, Team | Tagged , , , , , , ,