Mon 30 Jan 23
Volleyball England has praised the University of Essex for its “progressive and trailblazing” vision, matchday experience, and dedication to growing the game.
The tribute from the top governing body has come just months after the Essex Rebels volleyball sides ran out for the first time and as the team launches its new website.
The dramatic expansion of the professional sports offering has seen men’s and women’s teams compete at the highest level for the first time in the University’s 60-year history.
Building on the incredible success of the Rebels basketball programme the teams compete in front of hundreds in the Essex Sport Arena with light shows, announcers and incredible fan engagement.
Essex is at the vanguard of volleyball development with sports leaders singling out the Rebels as “one of the clubs already leading the way”.
Charlie Ford, Chief Executive Officer of Volleyball England, said: “Volleyball England is pleased to see the progressive and trailblazing steps that The University of Essex and the Rebels are taking to enhance their Volleyball game day experiences and fan engagement.
“Working alongside the Volleyball community, we are currently defining the next phase of our 10-year Game Plan strategy which will include clear ambitions to raise competition standards, presentation and how the Super League in particular, is positioned to provide an inspirational and aspirational beacon for the sport and our pathways.
“Essex Rebels are one of the clubs already leading the way in this area.”
The Rebels’ inaugural season has seen the men and women battle through to the National Cup quarter-finals which will take place in front of a home crowd.
After impressing in the league four Rebels players won their first national team caps, three for England and one for Scotland.
Developing local talent has been the fulcrum of both sides’ success with talented players coached to compete at the sport’s apex from Essex schools such as Tendring Technology College, and The Boswells School.
With Tomasz Morawski from Tendring thanking the Rebels for inspiring his players.
“The University of Essex plays an instrumental role in our school's volleyball programme,” he said.
“For a number of years now our students have been feeding into the volleyball performance squad and developing their skills.
“Visits, talks and friendlies along with an opportunity to watch high-level games locally are having an immense impact on our students who aspire to join the ranks of volleyball scholar-athletes.”
A feeling echoed by Darren Lewis, head coach of The Boswell’s School in Chelmsford and the England Cadet women.
He said: “I am impressed with how Essex Rebels are progressing volleyball in this country.
“They are providing a spectator experience that allows a wider audience to watch university sport played at a very high level.
“Good luck to the Rebels franchise who are showing the correct vision in pushing Volleyball towards becoming a professional sport in England.”
It is not just local players that have been inspired by the growing success of the Rebels with the club’s world-class facilities attracting players from around the world.
Canadian-raised Christian Christie is one such star, having moved to England for his masters and running out for the England National Team for the first time this year.
He said: “This is an exciting new step for volleyball in this country. It’s a fantastic feeling putting on the Rebel jersey to represent the club and run out in front of such a vibrant crowd.”
Building on the incredible success of the Rebels basketball programme the teams compete in front of the packed-out Essex Sport Arena with light shows, announcers and incredible fan and community engagement.
Then during the week the ‘Rebels Roadshow’ tours the county’s schools, with elite players giving assemblies and organising taster sessions for the next generation of players.
Alex Porter, Volleyball Performance Coach at Essex, said: “The growth of the Rebels family is a major step forward for the sport of volleyball and is a platform to inspire the next generation of athletes.
“The match day entertainment, website and social media presence are really exciting to see and provide a model for others to follow.”