Volleyball Ireland has launched a new strategic plan aimed at making the sport one of the fastest growing and most inclusive sports in the country.

Raising the Game is an ambitious statement from the sport which has a strong schools involvement but which over the next four years aims to broaden the possibilities of playing beyond the school days and through the whole of life.

It succceeds as a working plan because of the hard figures which have been included to measure the growth of the sport over the next four years.

Those include raising the number of affiliated clubs from 32 to 48, the number of registered coaches from 74 to 110, and the number of school teams from 971 to 1141.

A lot of hard work has gone into the forecasting and the roadmap of how to get from now to the future, backed by an overall vision to create a vibrant volleyball community that allows all clubs, players and officials to reach their potential.

Raising the Game is divided into five key strategic areas; Raising Participation, Raising Operational Standards, Raising Performance, Raising the Profile and Fundraising and Finance.

Each of the pillars has very specific key objectives, key tactics and key targets that provide a detailed and transparent approach to planning the next four years.

Over 9,000 school children currently play competitive Volleyball through an impressive schools calendar – the key focus of Raising the Game is to develop pathways for those pupils to join Volleyball clubs and create a vibrant community of exciting competitions.

Among the key elements are to host major international Volleyball events that will raise the profile of the sport. This has got off to a flying start with the staging of an Olympic Qualification event for Beach Volleyball at Bettystown in County Meath in June of this year.

The concept of volleyball being a sport for life is fully worked through with targets and plans all the way from the Mini Spikers physical literacy programme for 5-7 year olds through to Chair Volleyball, an initiative developed with Age & Opportunity.

“Make no mistake this plan has ambitious targets,” said Volleyball Ireland Board Member Jeff King who led the project to develop the strategy.

“It will place Volleyball as one of the fastest growing sports in Ireland and through our inclusion programmes we hope to be an exemplar amongst other National Governing Bodies of Sport.”

“Our Strategy is ambitious, challenging and exciting,” added President of Volleyball Ireland Grainne Culliton.

“It will leave a legacy for a strong and vibrant Volleyball Ireland. Putting the emphasis on club development and supporting exciting competitions will help us grow the sport and improve performance.”

The job of delivering on the 18 key objectives within ‘Raising the Game’ will fall to Gary Stewart who joined the sport in April last year from a previous role managing Sports Programmes on the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus.

“We’ve produced a really detailed and transparent map that will guide us over the coming years,” he said.

What we’ve demonstrated here is we aren’t afraid to challenge ourselves put hard numbers against our objectives. There is huge potential in Irish Volleyball and over the next four years we will develop a significant programme that will allow everyone regardless of age, background or ability to reach their potential.”

Gary Stewart will feature in ‘Leading Sport’ a new series of interviews with the CEO’s and leaders of the sporting governing bodies that make up Ireland’s rich diversity of sports.

Volleyball Ireland will also be one of the sports to take part in our 2019 Partners event to take place in the spring and which brings together different sports with potential commercial supporters.