Marden Volleyball Club can be found on Longsands Beach every Thursday in the summer season, and they have two qualified beach volleyball coaches. ‘We’ve run beach competitions in the past,’ Lloyd explains, ‘and the original organiser of the Tynemouth Beach Volleyball Tournament, Sue Sowden handed it over to us this year.’
In their first year of running the competition, Marden Volleyball Club plan to keep the format of two-a-side competitions on the Saturday and the more informal four-a-side competitions on Sunday. On the world stage, for example at the Commonwealth Games, there is more of a focus on two-a-side beach volleyball – this is much more competitive than indoor volleyball, which involves six players. ‘Outside, you can dive around more and not worry too much about getting injured because of a softer landing on the sand,’ says Lloyd. The aim of the game is to score points by grounding the ball on the other team’s side of the court and, while beach volleyball is very similar to indoor volleyball, players can’t play the overhead pass as much, which makes things more challenging.
The Tynemouth Beach Volleyball Tournament takes place on Longsands Beach, just outside Crusoe’s, and involves clubs from around the region – including Longbenton, Newburn, Sunderland, Tynedale, Monkseaton and Northumbria University’s team. There are between eight and 10 volleyball nets set up over the course of the weekend. ‘We don’t have permanent nets at the moment for the public to use, but it’s something that we’re working on,’ Lloyd explains. ‘The main reason why that hasn’t been possible yet is that the tide often gets too close, so it’s difficult to find the right spot.’
The Longsands Beach Volleyball League was set up last year, which takes place every Tuesday over summer – providing regular competitive beach volleyball for local players. ‘We tested the waters in 2017,’ says Lloyd, ‘and this year, we’ve had even more entries and have added the opportunity to win prizes thanks to sponsorship from a local partner called Communicator.’ The League currently has four divisions – two-a-side men’s, two-a-side women’s, two-a-side mixed and four-a-side mixed.
As a club, Marden Beach Volleyball Club are very open and accept players at any level. ‘The biggest benefit of playing on the beach is that you don’t have to pay for court space, and we provide equipment,’ says Lloyd. ‘This sport has massive benefits for everyone – you can enjoy the sunshine in summer (although we are here every week, rain or shine), and passers-by always stop to watch, often wanting to get involved. Everyone in our club plays volleyball for different reasons, but they all get great satisfaction from it.’
As part of this year’s tournament, there will be a new social on the Saturday evening at the Surf Café; competitors can buy tickets for £5, which will include entry and dinner. ‘We’ve decided to keep the social on the coast so people can play and celebrate in the same area,’ says Lloyd. ‘We want the whole weekend to be a really fun experience.’
To find out more about the Tynemouth Beach Volleyball Tournament and enter the competition, please visit www.tynemouthbeachvolleyball.co.uk