CEV President delivers emotional address for Confederation's 40th anniversary
“On our way to the next 40 years, our recipe won’t change: commitment, devotion, total passion for the sport but most of all teamwork in and off the Volleyball court” Mr. Meyer said looking already ahead on what was a special and emotional night to commemorate the 40 years of CEV. “Together we can face any challenges as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky!”
“Panta rhei, everything flows” the CEV President said to open his address by recalling a well-known aphorism by Greek philosopher Heraclitus. “Time literally seems to fly as some of us still have vivid memories from the 30th anniversary we celebrated ten years ago in Milan. However, another decade has gone since those days and we can proudly state that the development and growth of our sport have not stopped. On the contrary, Volleyball and Beach Volleyball have become fully professional sports, widely exposed on TV as well as on all other media, and this is the result of the hard work performed by our Confederation along with its partners, primarily its 55 affiliated national federations” he continued with representatives of 41 out of the 55 CEV members in attendance.
Without the pretension of being exhaustive Meyer – who has been chairing the CEV for the past 12 years – went through some of the milestones in the history of European Volleyball: “Though CEV does officially exist as such since 1973, the necessity to set up an institutional body for the governance of the sport was perceived already ten years earlier as the so-called European Sports Commission was established in 1963 by the representatives of 18 national federations. However, after Volleyball enjoyed its Olympic debut in Tokyo one year later and as the sport did not stop growing and was mesmerizing thousands of people, our forefathers came to the conclusion that a more structured organization was needed in order to accompany the development of the sport”.
CEV was hence founded in 1973 in Scheveningen and via the work performed by the Board members and its Commissions could quickly provide the sport with a general framework and the governance that were required to steer its growing complexity and take up the challenges resulting from its continuous development.
The CEV President did not hesitate to pay his tribute to those forerunners who back in the early ‘70s embarked on this unique sports adventure: “Most of those who chiefly contributed to laying the foundations of our Confederation have already passed away but tonight we want to pay our tribute to all those who were ready to devote their time and energy to such ambitious cause. The world was a totally different planet by that time and though countries were sometimes divided ideologically and politically, still an incredible cohesion and unity were to be perceived among all those who did work for the set up of CEV”. These people shared the same vision and dream that still drives the Volleyball family, i.e. the ambition to unleash the potential of the sport as a unique way to spread around positive values such as teamwork, fair play, and true friendship. Though Volleyball was not yet a professional sport and Beach Volleyball still had to boom, their commitment and devotion left an indelible mark on the CEV history setting the tone for the terrific development that was to follow in the years to come.
To continue his address the CEV President recalled the main strengths Europe’s Volleyball can rely on: “Our competitions are our core business. Starting from the early ‘70s we have seen the European Championship literally flourish as they haven’t just brought together a good share of the world’s best Volleyball players, but have also turned into a real highlight of the international sports calendar. We currently have got deals whereby the Championship is practically aired all over the world, thousands of fans are showing up in each venue where matches are played and we even have seen two countries join their forces to co-host Europe’s premier Volleyball event”.
Next to the European Championships, the European Cups have also boomed throughout the past decades: in every country clubs are eager to get the right to test their skills on the international stage and after a re-structuring that has taken place to evolve with the times, CEV has stabilized a portfolio comprising three different competitions where world-class Volleyball is always available.
Though an anniversary is a good occasion to look back and celebrate the glories from the past, the CEV President took the opportunity to draw the attention of his audience also on his vision for a long-term and sustainable development of the sport also in the years to come: “Like any team in the sport, our Confederation does work pretty much the same way: we are as strong as the weakest among our members. We need to take up the challenge to work out a series of actions and projects that do take into account the peculiarities of our 55 member countries but, at the same time, bring all together for one and the same goal. In this sense, it is essential that those nations that stand out for their know-how and results are keen to share this valuable background with those that are still searching for the right way to go but nevertheless are equally motivated in pursuing the same ambitious dream to turn Volleyball into a reference to look at for any other sport”.
The Confederation, he said, needs to find the right mix between development and elite sport thereby following up also on the quintessential values that Volleyball stands out for: “Our primary concern is the youth as we all have to work hard to develop and implement the right actions to draw their attention and, at the same time, understand their needs. We have to identify measures to attract young boys and girls to our sport, knowing that a professional career is a bonus that does not represent the main goal. Volleyball and Beach Volleyball have a great potential in promoting a healthy life-style and especially in setting up a friendly environment, where everyone will feel at home notwithstanding his or her physical and technical skills as well as social background”.
“On the other hand, elite sport does also remain a priority for CEV; there is no time or chance to rest on our laurels and similarly to what our predecessors have done in the past decades, we need to work out a vision laying the right foundations for more and more success so as to follow up on the excellent results we have achieved in recent times”.