Gibraltar hope for more Volleyball Empowerment success with CEV junior medals

CEV-FIVB : Infos lun 27 novembre 2023

When Gibraltar Volleyball Association (GVA) first applied for coach support under the FIVB Volleyball Empowerment programme back in 2020, they envisaged a five-year journey towards national team participation in an FIVB event.

After only three years, Gibraltar has already made its debut at the Beach Pro Tour, where the pair of Mathew Ressa and Liam Neish participated in the Futures event held in Cervia, Italy from 21 to 24 September.

While the duo lost to Italians Matteo Giorgi and Federico Guidi 2-0 (21-12, 21-08) in the preliminary phase and failed to qualify for the main draw, GVA President Emma Labrador says playing in the Beach Pro Tour was a landmark moment in the history of Gibraltar volleyball.

Even more encouraging for Labrador, was the fact that Neish (15) and Ressa (14) provided such an impressive display against the senior Italians, showcasing the work done by Serbian coach Nenad Tatic over the last three years through Volleyball Empowerment.

Gibraltar’s beach volleyball team players Mathew Ressa and Liam Neish (left) face off with Matthew Stevenson and Theo Núñez during a past training session (Photo credits: DANIEL RESSA)

“Sometimes the result doesn’t reflect the level of the players. The boys played well and were so comfortable playing at this level. Our juniors are now at the same level as the senior players because they got professional coaching from a young age.

“They are smaller in size but their technique is much better. Initially we used to work with local coaches, but Tatic has introduced a different level of professionalism that didn’t exist here before. He has settled in well and has been integrated into the community. He has a special bond with his players and you can see that the discipline, technique, athleticism and quality of volleyball has improved,” noted Labrador.

In addition to Ressa and Neish, Labrador also has high hopes in another upcoming pair of 14-year-olds, Matthew Stevenson and Theo Nunez. She believes the two teams are capable of securing medals when Gibraltar participates in next year’s CEV U18 Beach Volleyball Championship.

“We have combined Volleyball Empowerment and CEV’s school programme which has helped us get good players at a young age. These two pairs are showing great potential and we hope to get them further experience through zonal competitions (Small Countries Association) and one or two Futures tournaments before they play in the CEV competition,” said Labrador.

“We are hoping to get a medal and improve our ranking because this will open doors for us to participate in more FIVB events in future,” she concluded.

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