The Champions of England – IBB Polonia London has relocated to the home venue of PGE Skra Belchatow in Poland before the CEV Cup games. Following a significant break in training, IBB Polonia London has restarted volleyball practice. The reigning Champions of England flew to Poland for a long training camp as part of preparation for the next phase of the CEV Cup. Thanks to the hospitality of their partner club PGE Skra Belchatow, the players, under the watchful of eye of Vangelis Koutouleas, will spend the period 26th November to 14th December in the hall “Energia” where they will focus on a return to form. Following this period, they will fly to France where they will play the 1/8th final against the Serbian team OK Nis.
Due to the restrictions of the Covid epidemic, the London based team were unable to train in the UK. After the return from Italy where the CEV Champions League matches were played, the players and coaching staff were forced to follow the restrictions imposed by the government. Despite a raft of attempts by the club’s directors and the National Volleyball Federation, the decision by the government was not to be changed. As a volleyball club that is not permitted to have an elite status, despite playing the CEV Champions League – the most elite club competition in Europe – the return to training was not allowed. The club’s leadership did not stop looking for solutions, and so the idea to relocate to Poland to the home of the long term partners, PGE Skra Belchatow, was launched. The team will work together at that venue until mid-December. Both the players and the head coach are full of praise for the conditions where they train and live, thanks to PGE Skra Belchatow.
“The possibility of training in the hall “Energia” is an absolute delight for two reasons. It is an amazing feeling to return to volleyball after such a long break and it is a privilege to be able to make use of such a professional sporting facility like the sports hall and strength and conditioning rooms. We can feel like a professional team once again, and can relax and feel at home. We feel great in Belchatow, not only on court, but everywhere! PGE Skra Belchatow are treating us like family. It is freezing outdoors, but PGE Skra welcomed us so warmly. We are so grateful to the club and our friends in helping us with this plan” said Head Coach of IBB Polonia London, Vangelis Koutouleas.
Following the training camp in Poland, the volleyball players from London will move to Montpelier. This year, thanks to the pandemic, the format of CEV Cup has changed. The teams will play 1/8 and 1/4 finals in small bubbles. In the group with IBB Polonia London are Montpelier, OK Nis and Mladi Radnik Pozarevac. The Champions of England play their game on 15th December with OK Nis, and if they win, play the winners of the French/Serbian match on the 17th December.
“PGE Skra reacted very enthusiastically towards our proposition of a training camp in Belchatow. Building on the existing London-Belchatow cooperation over many years, we are so pleased to be able to count on their support once again. I am convinced that this will further strengthen our partnership and will benefit both clubs and business partnerships. We know that PGE Skra has some important games in the near future in the Champions League as well as the domestic league, upon which they must focus. For this reason we appreciate their engagement and we will support them in their mission” said CEO of IBB Polonia London, Bartek Luszcz.
“For many years, PGE Skra has had big successes on the international arena. For this reason we know how important the preparations are for competitions such as the CEV Champions League or CEV Cup. When we received the enquiry from our friends in IBB Polonia London, about using our facilities, we didn’t hesitate for even a second. For many years our partnership has been a big success, and this situation only reinforces our mutual support for each other. We are working towards the next phase of the Champions League and our friends from London have their own aims for the CEV Cup and in this mission we wish them well” said Konrad Piechocki, Club President for KPS Skra Belchatow S.A.
IBB Polonia London played a round of the CEV Challenge Cup in 2016 in the hall “Energia” against the fully professional team of FINO Kaposvar SE when they themselves were far from the elite status they are currently are. In this historic match, the English team won and made it through to the next round and simultaneously made an enormous stride into the international arena of volleyball. This was the start of introducing the world of volleyball to London.
Contributor, Douglas Barr-Hamilton
Source, IBB Polonia London Volleyball Club
Picture. IBB Polonia London Volleyball Club