GB Women inspire at Stoke City Premier League 4 Sport

Recently, 5 players from the GB Women’s Volleyball Team were invited by Volleyball England to Stoke City FC to celebrate and promote the great work achieved through the Premier League 4 Sport initiative.

Stoke was chosen as it is one of the most successful schemes with 4 satellite clubs established, enabling many children to play and enjoy volleyball. There were lots of local and national media covering the event including Match of the Day (at the bottom of this report).

GB’s middle blocker Grace Carter looks back on the day…..

Children from St John Fisher School were introduced to volleyball through the PL4S programme and have subsequently joined the local satellite club. They were invited to the event at Stoke City’s training ground; once a court was set up we were able to get some games going. I think all the girls would agree that the young players had some great skills, clearly a testament to the programme and work of local Community Development Coach, Ant Viggars.

We were then joined by two of the first team Stoke players; Matthew Upson and Mark Wilson, aptly chosen because of their shirt numbers; 20 and 12 (which they very kindly signed and donated to us!).

They were not quite as proficient as the younger players, but made some applaudable efforts to keep the rallies going for the cameras!

This was a rare day out for us, so we were very happy to be given a tour around the Stoke City training centre, a little insight into how the other half live!
It was interesting to see similarities between their environment and the way they train, for instance their gym and club philosophy.  

Although there were some more obvious differences; Our arrival in a 10 (or probably more like 15) year old VW Golf, with 5 of us piled in, holding our breath as we parked in amongst the Porches and Mercedes… and the 3 staff members dedicated to washing the players’ kit, this is where our resident ‘hat stand’ Rachel Laybourne took some keen interest. 

Despite some of the financial differences it was clear they are a great club, doing loads for the community, with a motto that our team can certainly relate to; “United Strength is Stronger”.

Dawn Bracegirdle, Community Projects Manager at Stoke City FC comments:

Dawn Brace Girdle gets a helping hand from the GBW

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you and your amazing girls for getting involved in the Match of the Day event today. The girls were absolutely fantastic and have certainly gained some fans at Stoke City FC! They worked so hard and made the event such a memorable one for the young players who came along from our satellite club.” 

See this video diary from the day:

We were quickly back on the road up to Sheffield for afternoon training, with some extra motivation knowing that both young and old, whether professional footballer or back room staff, we had plenty of enthusiastic people supporting us on our journey to the Games…who said we were a one sport nation?!

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