A group of enthusiastic schoolteachers and youth workers formed the Northern Ireland Volleyball Association (NIVA) in 1970. They organised a men’s league in 1975 and the first women’s competitions two years later.
The first Northern Ireland men’s team to take part in official competitions played against the Republic of Ireland in 1976. A year later, a Junior Women’s squad was formed.
The men’s first official tournament was the first (and so far, only) Commonwealth Championships, held in England in 1981. NIVA finished 9th of 11 participants – Canada won, with Nigeria second and England third. The women’s first venture was to England in 1983 for the West European Spring Cup where they finished 12th of 12
The British Isles Championships debuted in Northern Ireland in 1986. Northern Ireland Men won the 1989 tournament in Belfast, and the women’s best was 2nd in 1989 at the Valley Leisure Centre in Newtownabbey. The Senior British Championships ended after the 1991 Games, but in 1997, a Junior Under-23s Men’s event was held in Belfast, again initiated by NIVA, and the reward was the silver medal place. This team graduated to the European Division 3 Championships in Malta in 1998 finishing an honourable 9th out of 12
The history of adult club volleyball overtakes the pioneering schools of the early 1970s. From 1975 until the early 1980s, QUB dominated, with the NUU Coleraine challenging. Strong teams existed in Enniskillen, Omagh and Limavady but the strongest and most consistent club was and remains Craigavon Aztecs
NIVA and the Volleyball Association of Ireland (VAI) instigated an All Ireland Top 4 teams tournament in 1985 with TriSport Belfast becoming the inaugural men’s winners and Dunlaoire the first women’s winners.
In the 1990s, NIVA and VAI formed the All Ireland league for men’s and women’s teams. This was dominated by Belfast &quot;7’UP&quot;, the company which invested brand sponsorship of STG�100,000 for 3 years of development of Volleyball in Northern Ireland. This has seen the revival of volleyball in schools and clubs across the Province in areas such as Castlederg, Garvagh and Larne. Beach volleyball was introduced not only to the lovely Ulster coast but also to artificial courts in Belfast and Lurgan – despite the usually poor summers
The new millennium presents new challenges for NIVA to maintain and sustain the sport here. Courses and clinics for coaches and referees are held annually and an FIVB Course was held in Belfast in 1998. But no-one in NIVA is complacent. We aim to encourage and retain players and to bring volleyball back into the shop window of Northern Ireland sport