Some spectators come to cheer on their teams. Others come for the dynamics and excitement in the individual matches. A Dutch group, who plays sitting volleyball themselves, watched the match between Georgia and France.
The team from Georgia is cheering. All the players and coaches are in each other’s arms. They have just beaten the French team in two sets in sitting volleyball. “We are very proud,” says Avtandil Nutsubidze, the player with the number 1. What the team means to him? “The whole team gives me a lot of heart and a lot of energy,” he says and quickly joins his team for a common photo.
In sitting volleyball, the same rules apply as in volleyball. The players just sit for all movements like setting, bumping and spiking. Of course, the net is much lower: 1.15 metres high for the men and 1.05 metres for the women.
The French players are already on the centre court one hour before the match starts. They stretch, circle their arms, loosen their fingers and then move as fast as they can backwards, forwards and sideways across the court sitting on the floor. Fifteen minutes later, the Georgian team arrives.
20 minutes before the start of the match the teams arrive; the players are introduced individually. The teams welcome each other with a handshake. Just a quick warm-up, then the match starts. Every point is celebrated frenetically by Family & Friends. It is not easy to set a clean ball to be spiked. Because of the sitting position, the freedom of movement is severely restricted. France fights, but the Georgians are quicker to react.
The audience is enthusiastic. Even expert spectators do not spare their applause. There is tension and dynamism in it, they say. In the stands, a group dressed in orange stands out. Of course, they are from the Netherlands. “We all play sitting volleyball together,” says Michelle, who is attending the INVICTUS GAMES DÜSSELDORF 2023 presented by Boeing together with five team colleagues
“Many of us are or were employed with the Dutch military. At the Doorn rehabilitation centre, we have the opportunity to play sitting volleyball together.” Players with and without impairments play together here. “It’s about togetherness and keeping fit through sport,” Michelle explains. The team takes part in competitions all over the Netherlands. In November, they are even invited to a tournament in Denmark.
Before that, however, they are going through the Invictus Games tournament in Düsseldorf, accompanied by the tireless support of the orange-coloured fans cheering “Hup Holland Hup!”
Author: Monika Hartjes
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