I was thrilled to be invited by Volleyball England to join them on their court at Parallel London 2016. This fabulously inclusive event took place for the first time at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (to give it, its full name), and alongside an inclusive run/walk/push there was a festival of inclusive activities.

Richard Stacey-Chapman, sitting volleyball development manager, welcomed Katie and I very warmly. He showed us the full sized court, laid out with a white shiny tarpaulin. He was busy sweeping away the excess water – it had rained heavily the previous evening – but we were confident that by the time I had completed my walk and the sun poked through the grey clouds, conditions would dry for our pampered bottoms!

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We returned at the perfect time.  The GB sitting volleyball coach,  Branislav Kovac, known as BK, and his assistant Sean followed us onto the court. Sean suggested some simple one to one drills and we were joined by a passing member of the public Jaq, a lady convinced she was uncoordinated. But Sean showed her the basics and reminded us of the basic premise, “Don’t let the ball hit the floor!” and we were off and playing. Very quickly Sean built Jaq’s confidence and we were rallying, albeit without a net. BK suggested we were ready to sit either side of the net, so we commenced a version of the game. To start we were using as many hits – in my case using all parts of my arms, in Sean’s case sometimes his long legs! – as we needed to get the ball back.

It is so fast and such fun. BK told me that a top (standing) volleyball player took up sitting volleyball after surgery and declared it faster! The net is comparatively lower and the distance between players shorter so the ball flies quicker. It makes for hilarity, as by necessity in reaching for the ball players fall and roll over.
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We were joined by wheelchair user Sam, who was particularly game throwing herself around, enjoying the freedom of not being in her chair. After taking some photos Katie joined in too – it has a magnetism that is hard to resist.

I love the game as I feel i can participate and with my right ‘paw’ thwack the ball in a very satisfying manner! And the rule that your bottom or back must remain in contact with the ground suits me very well.

I was disappointed to hear that the GB team had failed to qualify for the Rio games but they were already rebuilding for Tokyo 2020. So if there is anyone out there with long arms but with a leg or lower body impairment who fancies the idea of throwing themselves around Volleyball England are looking for you! Get in touch www.volleyballengland.org as there is a pathway to the next Paralympics.

Thank you Richard, BK and Sean and to the ladies who helped increase the numbers.