Ben Osborne - case study

Post date: Sep 29, 2018 12:40:06 PM

Energise Me

I first played volleyball in August 2015 on holiday in Crete when I was 13 years old. It was challenging, but that was part of the attraction and when I returned home I was keen to play again. A nearby club called South Hants ran satellite club sessions on Saturday mornings, which I started in September 2015. It cemented my love of the game and I decided that I was going to dedicate myself to becoming the best volleyball player I could be.

Between satellite sessions I would practice at home, setting myself goals such as volleying a ball against a wall continuously for a certain number of times. After 6 months in addition to the satellite club sessions I joined the adult mixed sessions but even playing twice a week wasn’t enough to satisfy my growing appetite, so I went along to sitting volleyball sessions that my dad coached too.

At the end of the season I won the South Hants satellite club’s ‘Most Improved Player’ award which increased my confidence and hunger for success. While others took time out for a break during the closed season, I continued to train, working on my fitness and ball control and by September 2016 I was playing at least 4 times a week, including at regional level for the South East.

In November 2016, I attended an England Talent Pathway event at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth and was invited onto the programme on a 3-month trial. My first England training camp took place in December 2016 and I suddenly felt like a small fish in a big pond. Seeing other boys my age with better skills and abilities was a real eye opener and I knew that if I was to succeed then I was going to have to work even harder.

Whilst continuing at the satellite club sessions I joined another junior club called New Forest which had an Under 16 team, which took my training total to 5 times per week. I absorbed everything the coaches told me and continued to work on my own at home to consolidate my learning. In that year, New Forest U16s progressed to the finals of the national championships where we were runners-up and I earned my first competitive silverware.

That success, however, was dampened by the news that following the expiration of my 3-month trial on the England Talent Pathway, I was not invited to continue but was placed on the reserve list. Although I was naturally upset, having glimpsed what the pinnacle of the sport had to offer, I was determined to fight for a place back on the programme and redoubled my efforts to improve my all-round game. I continued training every day and by early 2017 I was invited to train with the South Hants Men’s National League team. This was a big step up but unquestionably improved my skills as I remember how out of my depth I felt and that I needed to improve my game in order to compete with the men.

In April 2017, I was selected for the U15 South East regional squad and in May my team came second in the National Regional Finals. I started training in Oxford in addition to my other training days. My hard work paid off because in August 2017 I was invited back to the England programme where I was selected for the national team that was to compete in the School Games that year, where we won the bronze medal

A month later, I was called into the National League Division 3 team for my home club and although I didn’t expect to feature much for them, I ended up playing regularly for the team throughout the season, picking up ‘Man of the match’ on a number of occasions as well as the ‘Most Improved Player’ award at the end of the season. In addition, I was also the runner-up in the East Hampshire District Sport Awards where I had been shortlisted for Junior Sportsman of the Year.

My dedication to volleyball comes at a cost as I travel frequently to training and competitions (the New Forest, Kettering, Oxford, Dorking and across the entire Southern region) and I would not be able to achieve this without the help and support of many people, including my parents, coaches and a number of organisations such as Energise Me, East Hants District Council and Havant Borough Sports Association, all of whom have funded me in some way.

As my game improves so does my desire to continue to progress as far as I can, so for the forthcoming season I will be playing in the National League Division 2 for New Forest Men and, having been recalled to the England Cadets, my aim is to be selected for my first international cap in October in a competition called North European Volleyball Zonal Association.

As an elite sports person I am eligible to undertake a Diploma in Sporting Excellence which I will begin in September this year, alongside my A level studies. Volleyball has given me so much more than technical skills – it has strengthened my confidence, instilled a sense of discipline and work ethic, and gifted me so many friends who have either coached and mentored me or played beside me.

I now want to give back to the sport that has helped me so much and as a first act I have started to assist at a junior club in Cams Hill, Portchester which is affiliated to South Hants junior satellite club which is where it all started for me. I would really recommend people to try the sport of volleyball – it’s a winner all the way!

Ben Osborne