This year, the School Games were held over in Loughborough University, a great sporting University.
Northern Ireland entered 1 girls and 1 boys team into the volleyball competition.
The boys team, coached by Jeff Scott, had a mixture of experience, some first timers for the games and some going for their second time. The team had a great dynamic on and off court, with each player showing drive and determination throughout.
The boys had a tough draw for their first 2 matches, facing two very strong England teams, who would inevitably place first (England Juniors) and second (England Cadets).
Day two saw them also face a well organised Scotland West. The NI boys had the slight edge, however, beating them 2-0 (25-22, 25-23).
On day 3, the boys took on Wales, again winning 2-0, but this time with some very convincing set wins of 25-8, 25-14.
This meant that the boys had secured a place in the 3rd/4th playoff, a remarkable achievement indeed.
Their second match on the third day was against Scotland East, the team that they would face again in the playoff regardless of the result. This was a nail biting match, going to 3 sets but with Scotland East just snatching the win from NI.
However, that match was done, time to focus on the playoff, competing for a medal, taking on Scotland East again. They knew their game, they knew they could beat them, just one team between them and a bronze medal.
The Sunday came and so did the playoff. As the boys queued up, they stood in silence, they hadn’t been so quiet the whole games.
The boys fought so hard and did themselves and their country proud. The first set was very tight but the boys narrowly lost it to the Scottish boys, 25-23. From that the boys went in hard taking a great lead in the second set. Unfortunately the Scottish boys weren’t giving in that easily and clawed it back, eventually taking the second set 25-19; a devastating loss for the NI boys, so close to a medal but just missing out, finishing 4th.
This however is a great achievement and the boys have to be positive and focus on the fact that they did better than any other NI team has done in years.
I hope the boys enjoyed their games experience and will continue to develop in the sport, perhaps for some, playing in the 2017 School Games. For now though, a big well done to all those who competed and made the Games a great experience.
Applications for coaching the boys are out so if you are interested please don’t hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org and check out the link below:
NI U17 Boys