Volleyball Ireland held its first online AGM this week and published an annual report that makes a very positive statement about the growth of the sport through the year to the middle of 2020.

A 32 per cent growth in revenue is a particular highlight but with governance and risk management to the fore, the sport is planning for a 30 per cent reduction in income through the pandemic.

Speaking about the impact of Covid-19 General Manager Gary Stewart writes in the report that “we are living in unprecedented and uncertain times. The Covid-19 pandemic will certainly impact on our plans and the achievement of our objectives over the coming years. It already has done so, cancelling the 2019-20 season as it was entering the business end of the programme.”

“It is frustrating that plans such as the Regional Development Centres, National Team Competitions and of course, the hosting of the FIVB World Tour 1* event had to be postponed.”

“From a financial perspective, the organisation will move cautiously, being risk-averse as we navigate the unknown. At this time, we do not know what impact Covid-19 will have on Government grants and private sector sponsorships. Our projections for 2020 suggest that our income will be reduced by around 30%, this is a significant drop and costs must be reduced in line.”

“On the court our position is clear, we intend to play as much Volleyball as is safe to do so, adhering to Government restrictions in full at all times. This will require flexibility, patience and understanding from players, clubs and officials.”

Moving onto the development of the sport there were some real bright spots to report on.

“We will continue to be creative to maintain interest in the sport of Volleyball,” continued Stewart.

“When lockdown hit we moved quickly. We led the way with a number of online programmes such as the Inspiring Players Series, the Educating Coaches Programme and of course, the hugely successful Virtual Volley Camp where over 130 junior players registered – this project has been replicated in other sports and other Federations across the world.”

“Being able to recruit world leaders in Volleyball such Cody Kessel (USA National Team), Lauren Soderberg (Olympic Beach Coach) and Hannah Thornton (Expert Nutritionist), is testament to the ingenuity and drive of our staff and volunteers. And also shows the importance of online working and engagement.”

Volleyball Ireland won the branding competition organised by Atomic Sport in partnership with Sport for Business and we look forward to seeing the fruits of that come to light in the coming weeks.