Footvolley is physically, technically and tactically a challenging sport because it combines elements from football and beach volleyball. But do not make the mistake of calling it an all-male sport. All over the world female athletes are playing footvolley. If you think they play to get more guys as followers on their Instagram, think twice. These ladies are highly motivated to improve their skills and compete in international tournaments. Currently in Europe there are female players in the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Austria. We asked them a few questions:
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AND WHY DO YOU LOVE FOOTVOLLEY?
Nynke Karrenbeld attended a footvolley tournament in Italy 6 years ago and was impressed with this tough and spectacular sport. She played a few balls in between games and was immediately sold. That same summer she joined a new group of men who started in Groningen in the Netherlands and has been playing ever since. Six months later Jorike Olde Loohuis who still played first division football at the time joined as well. They became the first female footvolley team in the Netherlands.
Nicoline Birza comes from a footvolley family as both her brothers and sister in law Evelyn Dobbinga play. In July 2014 she watched her brother Marcel participate in a footvolley clinic and got to play a few balls. She has been playing and improving ever since. Nicoline loves footvolley for the same reasons she loves beachvolley. Only 2 players to a team without substitutes gives you a lot of contacts with the ball and also the mental aspect is crucial. She is addicted to the technical and tactical skills required to play.
In Austria the sisters Klara and Martina Zeiner got involved thanks to Klemens Hofmann-Wellenhof and his brothers. Both are into footvolley because of the fun and the challenge on the sand. Or as Klara puts it:
“Footvolley is a great way for women to show they have a good feel for the ball and hand to eye control, without a personal history of playing football or volleyball like my sister and me.” (Klara Zeiner)
Martina adds that apart from playing even watching footvolley games is fun because of all the action and long rally’s.
In Sweden the most famous footvolley and football player (next to Zlatan) is Elin Astrid. She participated in a footvolley clinic at the Gothia Cup, the biggest football youth tournament in Gothenburg and she fell in love head over heels. Elin found that by playing this amazing sport she improved her football skills. Even with an injury or sensitive ligaments she was still able to play and speed up her revalidation:
"The sand is pretty much harmless to my bad knee and it's good to know I will always have footvolley when I'm old and can't play football anymore. It was a salvation for me during my slow rehabilitation of my injury." (Elin Astrid)
In the international tournament in Groningen 2016 Elin teamed up with the Dutch player Iona van der Linden. As a kid she used to play football with her brothers and now she plays a lot of volleyball. She really appreciates footvolley because you get to use different body parts to play the ball. Not using her arms was a challenge at first but now the situation has turned. From time to time she even rescues a lost ball with her feet while playing volleyball. She likes playing with her bare feet in the sand and she enjoys the good atmosphere at tournaments.
IS FOOTVOLLEY A SPORT FOR WOMEN AND WHAT WILL THE FUTURE BRING?
Female footvolley is growing according to Nynke Karrenbeld. Last year in Graz there were 6 teams from 4 different countries. The same upward trend you can also notice at the tournament in Groningen. She really believes the sport is suited for ladies because of the intensive rally game but the technical aspect takes a lot of time to master and that might hold back some women. Also it would really help if you learn the skills in your childhood.
"We have a lot of dedicated ladies from Italy, Germany, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands playing. But it’s crucial that we meet each other more often in tournaments to get more attention and to grow the sport. I expect the number of female players to double in 3 years’ time.” (Nynke Karrenbeld)
Personally she would love to play a tournament in Brazil together with her partner Jorike.
“There I saw with my own eyes that footvolley really is a sport for ladies. I also love the fact that age is not a real issue and look forward to play until I’m 60.” (Nynke Karrenbeld)
Nicoline Birza believes the sport is growing rapidly. According to her it’s up to women to get more enthusiasts into footvolley because there is no reason it cannot be a female sport.
“Not being able to play chest balls is not an argument; we can do the same with our shoulders.” (Nicoline Birza)
As for the future Nicoline and her partner Evelyn aim to be the best female team in the Netherlands. Furthermore they would love to play in Rio and take on the Brazilian female teams preferably together with their competitors and best friends Nynke and Jorike.
Martina and Klara Zeiner both recognize there is still a long road ahead. Not many women play and it is not easy to motivate girls for it. But they really hope that it becomes more popular. Personally they are dedicated to improve their skills like receiving the service and mastering the shark attack along with other dangerous attacks.
“Since it is very gentle to the body I think it's a good sport for many people, not only women. And its age range is wide which makes it a unique sport, a lot of different ages can play with and against each other. And it's possible to play both men and women in the same team.” (Elin Astrid)
She tries to inspire both women and men to play in Sweden. On a personal level she always pushes her hardest to improve all required skills.
Iona van der Linden is convinced that footvolley like football most certainly is a sport for women.
“Men might have more strength but us ladies can compensate a chest ball with a nice shoulder ball. But of course we can still learn a lot from the guys.” (Iona van der Linden)
In the future she hopes to see the sport grow and attract more female athletes. Personally she would love to train more and find a steady partner to participate in tournaments.
Age and gender play no role when it comes to footvolley. Everyone involved is or becomes an addict and wants to see the sport grow. The EFVL is dedicated to support footvolley to be accessible to all. Therefore we added several exhibition games for ladies in the timetable of the European Footvolley Championship in Germany (2-5 June): Nynke Karrenbeld & Jorike Olde Loohuis from the Netherlands will play against Martina Bizarri & Clarissa Di Tonno from Italy. Best of luck ladies!