An Irish Volleyball team is set to compete in the European Championships for the first time.

In January 2019, a 12-strong Girls U16 squad will head to the Faroe Islands to compete against Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland and the hosts for a place in the main draw of the Confederation of European Volleyball (CEV) Championships.

Globally, volleyball has a valid claim to being one of the worlds most popular sports with almost a billion players in every country.

It has made significant progress here in recent years with 12,000 players taking part in a National School programme and over 900 schools taking part in last year’s schools competiton.

In terms of diversity it also scores highly with registered players coming from no fewer than 61 countries around the world.

The cost of competing in the Faroe Islands is likely to be in the region of €20,000 and the sport has kicked off a hunt for sponsors to help realise this piece of sporting history.

“This is a great opportunity for a brand to help make history and enable this group to live the dream of representing Ireland on the International stage,” said Gary Stewart who was appointed earlier this year as the new full time General Manager of the sport in Ireland.

“Volleyball is a huge sport globally with an estimated 998 million players – so backing an International team will provide great exposure internationally and of course here in Ireland.”

“The National Squad programme was the brainchild of coaches Gianni Massa and Jenny King – a former Irish International herself – who set up the programme three years ago to develop the next generation of International players.”

“There’s a great history of Volleyball in Ireland, added King, “and there is lots of activity happening in schools.”

“This programme was a way of developing and inspiring the girls to keep playing, training and leading an active healthy lifestyle. It’s a great opportunity for the girls who have been training around the country and in Sardinia, in the hometown of Head Coach Massa, alongside world-class Italian Volleyball coaches and players.”

Parents and players have already kicked off a fundraising campaign within their local areas and through Irish crowdfunding company and long-term member of the Sport for Business community, PledgeSports.

Individuals can pledge amounts in support of the team from as little as €10 all the way up to becoming a main team sponsor and working with the team to provide unique experiences in the workplace for €5,000.

It’s a sport with a lot going for it and the enthusiasm of the new management team means that backers will certainly get their money’s worth.

The PledgeSports campaign can be seen and supported right here.