The next big wave in the para-sport sector – and something event owners need to be ready for – is para-beach volleyball. And as its organizers have targeted the 2028 Paralympic Summer Games in Los Angeles as a goal, it’s apparent growth is going to be strong in the U.S.
According to an article in Inside the Games, the Decathlon Beach Volleyball Tournament, featuring the standing discipline of the sport, was held in Brazil in August. Events were also held in Colombia and Kazakhstan. Organizers are continuing to refine and develop game rules and athlete classifications, and World ParaVolley president Barry Couzner has stated unequivocally that the sport “is on the move,” and that he thinks a Paralympic bid could be successful.
Sitting volleyball is a longstanding part of the Olympics, but paravolley organizers would like to capitalize on the growth in the beach discipline as well.
It’s still a young discipline; the first sitting beach volleyball championship was held in 2016, according to World ParaVolley’s site.
Because beach volleyball is an incredibly popular and growing sport across the board (including NCAA’s acceptance of it as a championship sport and NJCAA’s announcement that it would become a full-time varsity sport in 2019 – plus growth at the youth, high school and recreational levels), it was only a matter of time until the sport permeated the world of those with physical challenges.
Accordingly, organizers of beach volleyball events should be ready to recruit – and to welcome – para-beach volleyball teams. Expect an increase in spectators with disabilities as well and be prepared to provide appropriate amenities and conveniences – parking, rest rooms, seating and more – for both athletes and spectators.
In addition to creating a more inclusive event, para-beach volleyball can add a new revenue stream, draw enhanced participation and create more awareness of the event. It can also be an excellent ‘feel-good’ story to drive media awareness.
Expect a rise in attention paid to volleyball at the Paralympics as a whole in advance of Los Angeles, too. Sitting volleyball (the indoor version of the sport) is one of the 16 Paralympic disciplines expected to be broadcast live from Tokyo in 2020. (Trivia point: Paralympic badminton, boccia, road cycling, goalball, triathlon and the marathon events in track and field – sports that are either new or were not covered at Rio 2016 – will also receive from live coverage.)
The international competition in paravolleyball is also getting fierce; following a far-out finish (tenth place) at the 2018 World ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball World Championships in the Netherlands in July, the Japanese women’s team has identified key areas of improvement to focus on ahead of the 2020 Games.
The beach version of the sport includes teams of three persons per side, working within a classification system which promotes the inclusivity of the sport – otherwise following the standard rules of traditional sitting volleyball. Full rules are available on the World ParaVolley website.