„Pro Volley Academy” is a one of a kind in English education, but can start to be proud of its achievements already. The youngsters, under the expert gaze of Vangelis Koutouleas and Dominik Zmuda won their first match. Their determination and ambition, along with solid basics showed that they want to model themselves on the achievements of IBB Polonia London and wish to develop their own successes.
The volleyball academy was established this season by IBB Polonia London with the cooperation of Future Stars Foundation and the High School in Northolt in the Borough of Ealing. The aims are to build sporting achievements and educational excellence of the next generation of sports stars. The young athletes have only been together for two months, but the evidence of their progress is clear for all to see. The level of volleyball is improving day after day as is their school work. The attention to detail of the teenagers provides the support needed to thrive at school and on the volleyball court. They should have the potential to go to any university worldwide, and to play for any team.
Trainings are led by two of the coaches from IBB Polonia London, and this means that the players are learning from the very best. Vangelis Koutouleas, from Greece, has vast experience at the senior level, but has also worked with youth teams at Leaf Academy in Bournemouth, which was one of the centres of excellence of volleyball a number of years ago. In addition, Dominik Zmuda coached juniors for many years at one of the world’s best clubs – ZAKSA Kedzierzyn-Kozle in Poland. This is regarded as the elite club for youth volleyball in the country, and the evidence is that his team reached the final of the junior championships on an annual basis. His players have gone on to become key individuals for some of the top clubs in the highest league in Poland (PlusLiga).
„Pro Volley Academy” is able to function normally despite the strict regulations imposed nationally as a result of the pandemic on Thursday, 5th November. As the Pole explains, the volleyball academy is based on solid foundations and has enormous long term potential.
„The desire to coach young people came about some time ago, but this season we found the right people and circumstances to launch Pro Volley Academy. The wellbeing thought through project is based on solid ideas. We provide expert knowledge in the sports hall, the weights room and the video analysis room. This gives the students the opportunity to immerse themselves in their chosen sport of volleyball. The program takes about fifteen hours each week, during which time we are constantly teaching them, in addition, about nutrition and diet. We are also modelling ideal sports habits which will help them on the route to professionalism. We are aiming for our players to eventually make it into a senior team, and to be able to describe themselves as „volleyball players”. Every professional volleyball team has a junior section or academy, and for this reason this is a pivotal moment in The Club’s history. I am overjoyed that The Club has made this step despite the complex global situation” commented Dominik Zmuda.
Before the journey to professionalism can take place, each youngster starts with the ideas that are part of the long term goals of the Academy.
„The aim of the group, for this season, is to make progress and to enjoy playing and training. Of course, if it is possible, we will play some games in January. We played our very first friendly match with the juniors of Malory Eagles and we beat them 2-1! I am really pleased with the result, but that was not important at this stage. We are focused to mould our squad in our style right from the start and to try to eliminate personal errors” added Zmuda.
The work of “Pro Volley Academy” is not solely about the development of the youngsters, but is also part of the promotion of volleyball in the UK. Despite the fact that recruitments took place in September, there are still many enquiries about how to join the project.
„For this current season, our group is complete. The limit of players is determined by the ability to juggle elite level volleyball training with education. Thanks to the cooperation of the school, specifically Mrs Chambers and Mr Majewski, we are fully versed with all aspects of the academy. So far, the system is proving its worth, and for this reason I am convinced that with the new year, our recruitment will grow to increase the continuity of our work” concluded Zmuda.
It is not easy to start a volleyball club in the UK. Concentrating on the professional aspects of sport as well as completing academic requirements goes hand in hand. The London club has worked with juniors for many years, but this project is aimed specifically at students of high school age and this has become a priority for the coming years.
„We have emphasised many times, that building a team is a long term project and the effects may not be seen for many years. We would like our club to be an example of what is possible, and the new initiative Pro Volley Academy is part of our excellence. The young athletes have the opportunity to learn from some of the best coaches available and are able to tie this in with their school work, which is equally important. In time, the best players from the academy will be able to join the first team players on court. The development plan was put in place some time ago, and we will be monitoring the effects over time. We are very optimistic about the future for these young English players and we believe that eventually, when they fly from our nest, they will be volleyball stars” said Jack Ambrozy, main shareholder of IBB Polonia London and owner of IBB Builders Merchants.