By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Rockel Woods, Kiah Walters, Valissa Brathwaite, Caldon “Reno” Morton and Canis Marquis, were elected as five new Virgin Island Volleyball Association Executive Committee members on Monday night, during the body’s quadrennial elections at the Multipurpose Sports Complex, which also saw Stephen Payne as the new president taking the helm. He was nominated unopposed as well as Vice President, Marquis.
Woods garnered 13 votes to Henrietta Alexander’s 5, for the post of Assistant Secretary. Kisheba Sprauve-Callwood was returned as General Secretary unopposed. Walters amassed 11 votes to Curtis Davis’ 7, to become the Public Relations Officer. Brathwaite tallied 15 votes and Morton 13, for the posts of Player Representatives. Tylia “Tweety” Nibbs received 6 votes and Arianna Forbes, 2. Anabelle Skelton-Malone—the former Assistant Secretary—was unopposed as Treasurer. Maria Drigo retained her post as Assistant Treasurer.
“My vision is to put volleyball back where it was when I came here,” Payne told Island Sun Sports. “Volleyball was a vibrant sport. There was youth involvement in it from the schools and that’s where I want to see it go. The motto for volleyball is keep the ball flying. We want the ball to be flying in the near future.”
In order for youth development to take place, Payne said coaches need to be developed and given the knowledge and transfer it through the schools. While there are PE Teachers with certain core knowledge, youth development goes beyond knowing the basics.
“It’s a whole program that you have to incorporate, after school programs, making sure volleyball is played on a consistent basis,” he pointed out. “Youth development is something that caters to senior development. If you don’t have a youth segment, there’s no future for the sport. I’ve realized we don’t have a senior national team because we don’t have any youth programs to develop the senior national team. We must invest first and foremost and that’s one of the things I’ll be trying to implement, to ensure we get the requisite training for coaches, the officiating side of things. Even if we have to bring in persons to work along with the association, to make sure focus can be given to youth development.”
Payne said there are naturally gifted persons within the schools. They might have the height or be able to jump. However, he said the game must be introduced in the Primary Schools.
“Introducing certain skills in the game—it might not be volleyball per say—but it might be motor skills, skills that are necessary for the development of the sport,” he said. “Lateral movement, jumping, all of those kinds of things, then bringing them up introducing balls at tennis net height level, make the game interesting. And if you can develop a love for the game, then you’ll stick with it.”
Payne, who’s almost 60, began playing volleyball with a ball made from goat skin in primary school in Barbados at 11 and said his love for the sport hasn’t waned because of his early exposure. He envisages the same here, once youngsters are exposed early.
“In order for you to get that kind of advancement, you must have persons in the trenches to coach; you must have the support of the government; you must have the support of the schools,” he explained. “From primary school, we need to do a better job with the PE Teachers working alongside of the Volleyball Association and sport disciplined coaches, for instance Volleyball coaches will go in a work alongside the normal PE Teachers, develop a curriculum, develop a program and we can make it happen.”–