BRITISH VOLLEYBALL has received a major boost with the announcement that it is to stage the first round of the World Championships in Sheffield.
The Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) has chosen the Yorkshire city to host Britain’s first appearance in the competition with matches against some of the top countries in Europe at the English Institute of Sport (EISS), which will be held January 2-4.
It is a major coup for the British Volleyball Federation (BVF) who have been tasked to oversee the development of the country’s Olympic and Paralympic Squads.
Sheffield has become the home of British volleyball with the EISS housing the British indoor squads.
The EISS is also the location of the BVF’s high performance office and has hosted numerous major events including Volleyball England’s National Cup Finals and the European Championships.
Richard Callicott, the president of the BVF, said: “Sheffield has become synonymous with British volleyball in the last 12 months and therefore we are delighted to stage these first round games in such familiar and fantastic surroundings as the EISS.
“The matches will be a great test for the GB teams, but with home advantage and a partisan crowd behind them, both have a great chance of reaching the next round.
“It will be the first World Championships that the Great Britain teams have competed in and is another opportunity to test themselves against the best with the ultimate aim of being ready for a competitive finish in the London 2012 Olympics.
“The teams have achieved excellent results earlier in the year at the EISS in the European Championships and European League, so the World Championships provides another opportunity for the Yorkshire and Volleyball public to get behind the teams.”
A number of players from the GB squad reside in Sheffield, including local girl Rachel Laybourne (pictured).
She said: “I am delighted the World Championships are going to be in my home-town of Sheffield.
"I know the GB teams will receive great support from local people as many of the players now live in the city and there is a strong volleyball following across the region.”
Yorkshire Forward has given their support to the World Championships first round games and assistant director of culture and major events, Neil Jenkinson, said: “It is great news that the FIVB has chosen Sheffield to stage this important global competition, adding another string to the city’s growing sporting prestige.
“The World Championship matches will attract many people to the region helping to bring in additional revenue to local businesses, while providing an opportunity to showcase the area to many first time visitors.”
Britain's men have been drawn against Belarus and Israel and if they finish top of the three-team group, they will qualify for the next round where they would face Germany, Slovakia and Croatia.
In total there are three qualifying rounds before the World Finals which will be taking place in Italy in 2010.
The women have been drawn against Israel, Portugal and Montenegro and will be hoping to finish top to reach the next round against the Ukraine, Belarus and Azerbaijan.
Their World Finals, which are also in 2010, will take place in Japan.
Tickets for the first round event in Sheffield are priced at £8 for adults and £4 for concessions. They are available in advance by visiting www.volleyballengland.org, calling 0114 223 5742 or from the EIS - Sheffield reception, Coleridge Road, Sheffield, S9 5DA.