FIVB Volleyball Foundation – a greater world shaped by volleyball

No.2: June 2024
Guest author: Steve Wilson

Steve Wilson is a media and sports communications expert with a rich history as former European Sports Editor and Olympic correspondent for The Associated Press, where he covered 15 summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games and won prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” and “Story of the Year” awards for Olympic reporting. He also served as President of the Olympic Correspondents Association. He is renowned for his deep understanding of the Olympic Movement and international sport.

For embracing its responsibility to better society and recognising volleyball’s role in giving back, the FIVB Volleyball Foundation is JTA Communicator of the Month.

Volleyball is more than just a game. It’s a sport that can deliver positive social change.

That’s the simple but powerful message of the FIVB Volleyball Foundation, an innovative project launched on 30 May with the mission of shaping a better world through the sport of volleyball.

Who can argue with that?

The role of an international sports federation is, of course, to govern the sport and organise the competitions. Federations are also involved in developing grassroots sport and inspiring mass participation. But, more and more, governing bodies are being called on to tackle broader social issues.

The Olympic Movement often touts sport as a tool for social change. The FIVB is taking this to a new level by creating the Volleyball Foundation, moving away from existing elite-focused programmes and creating a more direct route to making a social impact at the local community levels.

It’s not the first foundation launched by an international federation. But this initiative, spearheaded by long-time FIVB President Dr Ary S. Graça F°, stands out for its approach and exceptional potential.

The FIVB’s goal is to show how volleyball can open doors, break down social barriers and promote healthier lifestyles. Volleyball is an accessible, inclusive and gender-equal sport featuring the values of teamwork, communication and collaboration.

The FIVB is determined to better engage with a global volleyball community, estimated at 800 million people in 222 countries. The federation hopes the Foundation will help double the global audience to 1.6 billion people.

As President Ary Graça said at the launch ceremony:

“The Volleyball Foundation will play a vital role in promoting positive social values, helping to create a more collaborative and harmonious world. The Foundation is dedicated to creating a world where everyone has access to sport, no matter their gender, age, background or position. Where they have the opportunity to be healthy and active. To experience the joys of volleyball. And to learn important skills that will serve them throughout their lives.”

An impact is already being felt. The Foundation raised over half a million dollars right off the bat through donations and a special charity auction – funds that will go directly to worthy volleyball projects around the world. The FIVB has pledged Foundation investments of US$1.2 million over the next two years.

Two compelling community pilot projects are already in place. The Brahmaputra Volleyball League, a community grassroots league in Assam, India, has engaged more than 10,000 children into the sport. And the Githurai Kimbo Volleyball Academy offers youths life skills, education and equal opportunities in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Nairobi, Kenya.

The Volleyball Foundation has attracted powerful backing, receiving support from the foundation of private equity giant CVC, with whom it also partnered with for the launch of the sport’s commercial arm, Volleyball World. Other supporters include sports giants Mikasa and Decathlon, and organisations such as the Qatar Foundation and Generations For Peace.

The project has also enlisted prominent athlete ambassadors, including former Olympic and world champions Mireya Luis of Cuba, Vlad Grbic of Serbia and Giba of Brazil.

These stars are renowned in their home countries. Their social media platforms can provide formidable tools for advocacy, which are likely to broaden the Foundation’s influence, attract more donations and secure impactful partnerships.

Meanwhile, the Foundation’s aim will be to find more projects to support, more local communities to assist and more young people to bring into the sport.

In short, to transform lives through volleyball.

Picture credit: FIVB Volleyball Foundation