Rachel hails city partnership

GBR womens Volleyball team at EIS press conference'Local girl Rachel Laybourne
GBR womens Volleyball team at EIS press conference'Local girl Rachel Laybourne

SHEFFIELD is celebrating this week after the announcement that GB Women’s Volleyball will remain in the city - with homegrown star Rachel Laybourne describing it as a “massive boost” ahead of London 2012.

In a remarkable collaborative effort lead by Sheffield City Council, the GB team has been provided with the accommodation, hospitality, training facilities and medical support they need to successfully train in Sheffield ahead of the Olympic Games next summer.

Sheffield City Council, supported by Podium Projects, has developed a partnership which sees Sheffield Hallam University providing a full suite of sports science services and accommodation, Hospitality Sheffield providing accommodation for players and staff, Claremont Hospital providing Sports Medicine, All Saints School and SIV providing court time for training and Stagecoach Supertram providing access to travel for the players. This unique partnership and support from organisations across the city provides the support structure required for the team and has allowed them to put together a gruelling schedule of games.

“The partnership is a massive relief to myself and all the squad,” Laybourne said. “It’ll certainly help to bridge some of the gap, and it’s a great boost to us. But we still have to do more.

“It maybe sounds a little pessimistic and we are immensely grateful for the help, but there’s a lot more work to be done.”

Following the reduction in British Volleyball’s funding, the GB Women’s programme was in danger of shutting down in Sheffield. Despite having their London 2012 Olympic Games places confirmed by the British Olympic Association earlier this year, this would have left their plans to compete in the Olympic Games in jeopardy.

“Basically, everything was on the table,” Laybourne added. “If we didn’t self-fund, or find significant backers, then we would have had no options left. The Olympic dream would have been over.

“But now it’s very much alive, and we have to make sure we keep working hard to do ourselves justice.”

Sport scientists from Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Sport and Exercise Science (CSES) have provided the team with the expertise and facilities to prepare them for their gruelling schedule.