Mladi udeleženci turnirja v odbojki sede pod žarometi med ponedeljkovo popoldansko tekmo v Ljubljani
Being a teenager is often hard, especially for kids with any kind of special needs. Inclusion is in this term one of the best tools to help kids and adolescents to feel better in their skin since the main purpose of the inclusive work is to make people feel equivalent. Sit2play is, therefore, an amazing project and we wanted to spread the word of it also in some other European countries, which are not directly involved in this project. With this in mind, we helped to organize the inclusive sitting volleyball tournament for primary school kids in Greece.
The tournament was held in Trikala, a small city in the Greek mainland, where the department of sports education and sports psychology is. Adapted physical activity is one of the main subjects at the faculty and this year Slovenian captain of sitting volleyball team and the coordinator for Si2play project in Slovenia, Lena Gabršček, is also studying there. That is how students and professors form T.E.F.A.A. came up with the idea of organizing an inclusive sitting volleyball tournament for kids (with special needs). The event took place on 9th of May and there were six teams of kids, form the age of 10 to 14, form two different primary schools and one school for kids with special needs. Teams were mixed – girls and boys, kids with and without special needs together. Every team played against all other teams and in meanwhile when they did not have any matches, there were some other inclusive activities for kids, organized by students. Since the children were quite young and not very familiar with volleyball, the rules were not so strict and they were aloud also to catch the ball and throw it over the net with one or both hands. At the end every kid got a medal and a diploma, confirming that they were part of this tournament.
The excitement of kids was incredible. They supported each other and cheered for their favorite teams when not playing. It was, for sure, amazing day, full of joy and laughter. Hopefully, this is not the last inclusive sitting volleyball tournament in Trikala.
Sitting volleyball in Slovenia has definitely got the wind in their sails in the last months. As a part of the European Union Erasmus+ Sit2Play project the Volleyball Federation of Slovenia (together with Italian Volleyball Federation, Turkish Volleyball Federation, Estonian Volleyball Federation, Finnish Sport Association of persons with disabilities and Bulgarian Ministry of Youth and Sports) tries to raise awareness and give the marginalized and underprivileged groups, due to their disabilities, a chance for social inclusion trough this wonderful sport.
The numerous achievements of this young country in sitting volleyball speak for themselves. The Slovenian women national team claimed nine medals in their twelve appearances at European Championships. They won three podiums at the World Championships and made it to the Paralympic Games three times, always finishing among top 6 teams, while Slovenia’s men are still waiting for their time to shine. However, in 2018 they returned on the international scene after long 17 years and made it to the Qualifiers for the Europeans Championship.
Although the sitting volleyball is being played mostly by people with disabilities it has much greater potential. Confirming this, some of the volleyball clubs around the whole country started collaborating on their own initiative. Both senior teams of Calcit Volleyball participated in a friendly match in URI Soča in Ljubljana, where they tested their skills versus Slovenian sitting volleyball national team players. OK Maribor invited two national team players to join the practice of their U17 team and introduce them to the basics of this sport. The youngsters learned that it’s a beautiful and interesting game; however it’s still quite challenging to play.
In the upcoming months Slovenia will host two major events connected with Sit2Play project. The first one will take place in Braslovče on 16th June and the other one in Ljubljana during the 2019 CEV EuroVolley- Men. The activities for both of them have already started and organizers hope to successfully promote the inclusion of everyone through the sport.