Slap Happy

Are you too active to be laying on a beach basking in the sun? Or get itchy feet if you bathe too long, looking for something to entertain you? Then boy have we got the place for you! The Gunsite beach has been a summer home to the Jersey Volleyball Association for as long as I can remember (and I’ve been going down there a while now)! Hosting training sessions, fun and competitive tournaments it aims to offer something to everyone and to spread the joy that volleyball brings. No experience required. Sunshine entirely optional. Sand is a must. Let’s play ball!

I grew up through volleyball in Jersey. My friends and I played the summer tournaments for a laugh, usually in fancy dress and light on skill but full of cheer and silliness. After marrying a volleyball player he convinced me to take the sport a little more seriously and I played competitive indoor volleyball for seven years, taking part in two Island Games representing Jersey. After much debate I officially hung up my knee pads last year to pursue other goals, but left the club with fond memories and firm friends. Not only did I acquire a husband from the sport, but I accessed a family made up of the most diverse origins that Jersey can offer.

Big in Europe, volleyball has struggled to hold a spotlight in Jersey but had its heyday in the 2015 Island Games with the men’s beach team bringing home a bronze medal to a packed out stadium at the Weybridge. The JVA kicked off it’s series of beach tournaments this weekend at the Gunsite with the mixed 4’s event under the glaze of a hedonistic 26c temperature. Bronzed, buff bodies jumped and dove amongst flying sands, some vying for the trophy, others just trying to master the difficult skill sets involved. 

There’s an incredible sense of community and family at the event, it’s a place you can bring your children to be watched safely, with husbands and wives competing alongside each other as well as their kids. It’s also incredibly multi-cultural. Jersey volleyball has attracted Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Russian players who unite over a love of the game with little more than a nod given to language barriers. The association has actually helped a lot of new arrivals to the Island find a way of meeting new people and be part of a larger family. 

The summer tournaments embody exactly what the JVA is all about. There’s the option to play competitively against talented individuals, or for the not-so-experienced a more novice tournament to test out the sport or improve your play. Women can play alongside men in the mixed event, inclusion is what counts and never about making someone feel like they’re not welcome or meant to be there. Did I mention that the players are HOOTTTT?! There are no rules against fraternising with your opposing side and summer romances often spill out onto the courts. 

Beach volleyball offers something for everyone. Teeny tiny bikinis, tall smouldering men and a sport that can take you from the school yard up to retirement age. There’s a permanent net down at the beach and always someone from the association milling around to offer advice and support on how to get more involved in the summer months. Come along and give it a whirl, you’ll find there’s nothing quite like the slap of the ball on a hot summers day. 

To find out more about about volleyball in Jersey visit the JVA website here.

Or check out their Facebook page here for training times