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2016 / NO.2
2016 / NO.2
Beach Volleyball – Just a Summer's Game for Fun?

In summer with simmering heat, the most popular activities are of course bathing in the sun and going to beaches. Beach volleyball, being a lively and fun game played on a sand court, is therefore no doubt a norm on the beach in summer.  The Macao Volleyball Association in recent years has made increased efforts in promoting the sport of beach volleyball and has already hosted on the Hac Sa Beach several local beach volleyball leagues and youth games which were the first in Macao, with the purpose of developing the game as well as discovering players with good potentials.  In the future, the Volleyball Association will continue to aim at promoting beach volleyball as a competitive sport and to train better beach volleyball athletes locally.

To promote beach volleyball is to ensure volleyball games can operate without interruptions

Three years ago, volleyball development in Macao faced very serious problems, one of which being the challenge of finding the right venue for volleyball training and volleyball tournaments. Another problem was that the tournament schedules were scattered causing a lot of withdrawals from tournaments. In order to deal with these issues, volleyball organizers decided to not only increase the advertising about the sport, but also seek out locations other than the traditional indoor sports facilities. It was at this critical moment that beach volleyball appeared to the organizers as an obvious solution.

    In just a few years' time, beach volleyball has got a lot of attention.  Cheong Ka Chon, a volleyball coach, was the main driving force behind the push for beach volleyball development and hosted the first youth games. He felt that popularizing beach volleyball is like expanding the game of volleyball itself. He commented that training indoor volleyball players is a difficult task since it is often not easy to gather all players of the six positions for practice and not easy to sharpen the skills of the players. Hence, training up a good competitive team for participating in international competitions was very hard to do.  Beach volleyball, on the other hand, requires only two players and there are fewer restrictions on the venue, thus increasing the odds of training athletes to become outstanding players.  In addition, Cheong believed that indoor volleyball and beach volleyball leagues can complement each other. For example, when venue becomes a problem for indoor volleyball games, beach volleyball games can be scheduled so that volleyball games will not be halted.

With the primary goal of turning it into a competitive sport

Compared to indoor volleyball, beach volleyball is less restricted in terms of the number of players and the availability of venues.  In addition, the later is a game suitable for family gatherings or parties on the beach.  Cheong said that even though most people think that beach volleyball has the qualities of a sport for the general public, the Volleyball Association will focus on making the sport a competitive one. And he added that beach volleyball is fun and challenges the player’s mind, physique and reactions on the field but the sport will not remain a leisure activity.  In order to turn the sport into a competitive one and ensure resources remain adequate, training top athletes and winning international competitions is absolutely necessary. To Cheong, with the small population in Macao, it is relatively easier to win some games in beach volleyball than indoor volleyball. The entry qualifications are also lower for beach volleyball which will enable more young people to join the sport and dedicate themselves to training to become elite athletes.

Lee Sin Kuan:  It is just the beginning for Macao beach volleyball

In the last few years, the Volleyball Association has organized the youth beach volleyball games for two consecutive years and accumulated points for the ranking of the athletes. The higher rankings will qualify players for joining international games. Local women players Lee Sin Kuan and Tam Kin Teng came out first in the local leagues. Lee qualified to represent Macao and played in the Hong Kong AVC Women’s Beach Volleyball Championship.  Lee was very impressed by this experience, which made her goals in beach volleyball clearer to her.  She felt that it is very different to play locally versus internationally.  Players from other countries respect this sport a lot. Lee realized that even though the teams were top notch teams, the players did not slack and would make the opponents work hard to score even just one point.  After facing and losing to Japan in the competition, Lee is now more determined than ever to win a game.  She felt that it is only the beginning for beach volleyball in Macao, there is room for improvement and the future looks bright for Macao athletes to narrow the gap between local players and international players.

Miss Tam Kin Teng: Hoping for more steady practices

Lee Sin Kuan’s partner, Tam did not attend the competition in Hong Kong because of personal reason but she is just as determined, if not more so, as her partner in winning a game in the future. She believed that to become a champion in the sport, steady and regular training is indispensable. Beach volleyball is different from indoor volleyball in the sense that there is little support from team mates, placing a greater demand on the individual player’s physique, skills and psychological capabilities. Regular practice on the sand court to perfect volleyball skills will help the players better prepare themselves and it is her wish that venue availability and practice drills can become more routine.

Men players are equally determined

Sponsors are more willing to support women’s games than men’s games when it comes to beach volleyball. Women also have better chances than men to take part in international competitions abroad but this does not stop the men players from having a passion for the sport.  In this year’s league, Tam Chit Meng and Chan Ka Lon came out third and it was their first medal.  They had wanted to hone in on their defense skills when they joined the league. But after the games, they became zealous in beach volleyball.  Tam noted that beach volleyball is the best platform for testing one’s abilities since it is very difficult to maneuver the volleyball on sand.  Playing more beach volleyball will certainly increase the speed of mobility in volleyball. Beach volleyball also demands greater skills and rapport between players and therefore the game easily shows a player’s true abilities. 

They understand, however, that passion alone is not enough to become good at the game, as Chan Ka Lon talked about several obstructions on training, “The players would like to train harder and see more resources allocated to securing good sand courts as the existing sand courts are not the same as those in competitions. When they train they are concerned about cuts and bruises inflicted by the sand and this makes them hold back during their exercise drills. Besides, more systematic and concentrated training would be necessary for gradual improvement.”

Beach volleyball and indoor volleyball are complementary

Beach volleyball may have been born in Macao by serendipity, but volleyball lovers are not letting this become just a fad. They are poised to work together to make this sport a real competitive game. As Cheong Ka Chon puts it, both indoor volleyball and beach volleyball are volleyball games and they are complementary to each other. The Volleyball Association already has plans to organize youth training programs. Through developing beach volleyball, more talented players will be discovered and this will also increase the pool of indoor volleyball players and help the development of indoor volleyball. Cheong has great confidence in the future of volleyball in Macao.