U-18 Grand Prix removed in competition review
21st August 2017
Several changes to the junior competition schedule for 2017/18 have been announced, including the removal of the U-18 Grand Prix. These changes have emerged from the ongoing review of all Volleyball England (VE) competitions. They also stem from the discussions on future plans for junior volleyball development being held by the regional associations.
After extensive discussions with the membership, led by VE’s Competitions Director, Freda Bussey, the U-18 Grand Prix will be removed from the calendar as of this season (2017/18). The U-18 Championships will now take place over a longer time period, with the finals being played alongside the senior national cup finals in April.
Commenting on the announcement, Freda said: “When we started canvassing the views of clubs, coaches and volunteers involved with junior volleyball, one message came back louder and clearer than all others. The U-18 Grand Prix is now one event too many in what has become an increasingly congested schedule for juniors of that age. Many of the players already play in the U-18 Championship, they’re in the England talent pathways and they’re playing in the National League. That’s too much for the players and the clubs – some of whom had begun to decline the chance to play in the competition’s latter stages - so something had to give.”
“While there was unequivocal support for removing this competition, there was just as much support for increasing the amount of competition available to the younger players, especially at the U-14 level. To accommodate that request, we now intend to work far more closely with the regions to make sure this can happen at a local level, learning from the successes of those regions where competitive U-14 activity is now well established.”
Other announcements included:
- In the U-15 Championships, the regional round of fixtures will be removed so the competition can follow the same format as the U-16 and U-18 Championships. However, the constraints of this season’s calendar mean that this change will not become effective until the 2018/19 season.
- Entry fees for all three competitions will be set at £35 for every team entered. The previous layered payment structure for multiple entries will be removed.
- One single document will be prepared, containing the details on all VE age group competitions. Any further changes to the competition structure from 2018/19 onwards will be agreed by January 2018.
Following a meeting of the Regional Chairs in late July, changes are also planned for the Inter-Regional Championships. For the 2017/18 competition, the age groups for the girls’ competitions will be aligned with those of the boys’ competitions. This means the girls’ age groups being changed from U-14 (4-a-side) and U-16 to become U-15 and U-17 (both 6-a-side).
The competition will remain in its usual late May Bank Holiday weekend slot but it was agreed that it could move to the early May Bank Holiday weekend if a suitable venue could not be secured. The event will remain at the National Volleyball Centre in Kettering for 2018.
With several regions now running their own U-14 tournaments or Grand Prix series, all other regions were encouraged to consider running something similar. This was with a view to eventually creating some form of national U-14 inter-regional final, possibly with a separate competition for individual club or school teams being played alongside it.
Matters pertaining to beach volleyball and sitting volleyball at a regional level were also discussed and will be picked up again at the Chairs’ next meeting, along with a discussion about the possible reintroduction of the Regional Champions Trophy.
For more information on the above changes or to submit your ideas on how you think the competitions schedule could be further improved, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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