Beach volleyball stars from across Europe will be serving up their skills in an Olympic qualifying competition to be held at and run by Bournemouth’s LeAF Academy.
Construction students and apprentices have built two new outdoor beach volleyball courts for the tournament, students are booking the athletes’ accommodation and the elite sports students from the LeAF Studio will help run the event itself.
Experienced local volunteers are also helping to stage the competition, making it a real community venture.
The CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup is being held at LeAF campus – home to the UK’s only indoor beach volleyball centre – on June 21 and 22.
It will see competitors from England, Slovakia, Switzerland, Sweden and Ireland pit their wits against each other in the first step towards qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Executive principal of the LeAF Academy, Dr Annetta Minard, said: “Everyone at LeAF is delighted that our bid to host our first international sporting event has been successful.
“Our own elite volleyball students will be getting involved throughout the two-day event and will be able to get a real taste of what it is like to compete at an international level.
“This is a real Olympic legacy – inspiring the youngsters of today and showing them what they can achieve for tomorrow.”
In addition to the competition at LeAF, which is being hosted in partnership with Volleyball England, there will be seven other first round pools taking place in Slovakia, Portugal, Croatia, Greece, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan.
Wayne Coyle, Volleyball England President, said: “We are really looking forward to hosting this event in England. It will be the first time a major international beach volleyball competition will take place on home soil since London 2012.
“We are very pleased to be working in partnership with the LeAF Academy and look forward to an exciting championship.”
LeAF is a federation of three Academies – Elm Academy (nursery and primary school provision), Oak Academy (11-19) and the LeAF Studio (14 to 19).
Volleyball England recently chose LeAF as its venue to hold trials for the national squad and the indoor beach volleyball centre is also being used as a training camp for the Team GB squad.
LeAF will also soon be home to a new, purpose built indoor sports centre designed to host international events.
Due to open in July, it will include facilities for volleyball, football, badminton, basketball, netball and handball and will have a capacity for up to 1,000 spectators. And planning permission has also been secured for the south’s only Olympic sized swimming pool to be based at the LeAF campus. Both the indoor sports centre and swimming pool will be used by LeAF elite athletes and the wider local community.