Gunners get to grips with sitting volleyball
Arsenal players got into the Paralympic spirit on Friday, when they were given a unique opportunity to get involved with one of the London 2012 Paralympic Games’ most exciting sports - sitting volleyball.
Men's sitting volleyball was first introduced to the Paralympic Games in 1980 and has grown to become one of the more popular Paralympic sports due to its fast-paced nature and thrilling action. The rules of sitting volleyball are very similar to its Olympic counterpart with six players per side; however a part of an athlete’s body between the buttocks and the shoulder must be in contact with the court whenever a shot, or attempt at a shot, is made.
After being taught the basics by Volleyball England coaches at the Club’s training base at London Colney, Carl Jenkinson, Abou Diaby, Vito Mannone and Francis Coquelin quickly got to grips with the sport and took part in a closely-fought game alongside more seasoned competitors.
After completing the short contest, Carl Jenkinson admitted that he had found the activity harder than expected: “It was good fun but really hard work as your hands are in the air the whole time and it gives your core a real workout. I have a lot of respect for the guys who are doing this at the Paralympics and I wish them all the best during the Games.”
Goalkeeper Vito Mannone also enjoyed the experience: “We play a few other sports like table tennis and basketball when we have a bit of free time but this is really fun. The other guys aren’t used to using their hands so maybe I had a bit of an advantage today!”
The session was set up by Arsenal in the Community, in conjunction with Volleyball England and London Lynx Volleyball Club, as part of the department’s drive to expand both its Premier League 4 Sport and Disability programmes. PL4S aims to encourage more young people to get involved with Olympic sports and sees Premier League clubs acting as hubs linked to community sports clubs and facilities, which in turn are connected to local secondary schools to create satellite sports centres.
Arsenal in the Community is currently looking to create a disability specific satellite club, linking to all of its local Hub Clubs in the sports of sitting volleyball, badminton, table tennis and more. The department currently organises sessions and teams in blind and deaf (hard of hearing) football and by recruiting and training new coaches and volunteers, it is hoped that the programmes will continue to develop and capitalise on the success of London 2012.