More than 30 years on, the dedication of Kilsyth Academy’s PE teachers during the late 1970s is set to have a major impact on the success of this year’s International Children’s Games in Lanarkshire.
For it was at the Balmalloch Road school that Margaret Ann Fleming, the now chief executive of the Scottish Volleyball Association, first took an interest in the sport which she now governs.
The 46-year-old, who grew up in the Westfield area of the town, has been instrumental in the creation of a Lanarkshire-wide youth development programme for the sport, from which the teams for the August Games have been drawn.
“It has been a real honour for me,” said Margaret Ann. “The most exciting thing is that I come from Kilsyth and have gone from being a schoolgirl taking part in the sport to now helping to deliver one of the biggest events the area has ever seen.
“Obviously, from my position with Scottish Volleyball, it’s great because it gets the focus on the sport and puts in place a pathway for young players to follow from playing at school to going on and playing for a club.
Volleyball is one of 11 sports which will see teams from around the world descend on Lanarkshire to compete from August 3.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams have been training and playing together for more than a year, but Margaret Ann knows they will face some stiff opposition. She said: “Most of the countries that are involved will have players who have been playing from a very early age.
“But I’ve got great expectations for both of our teams..”
St Maurice’s High PE teacher, Nicola James, herself a volleyball enthusiast, has been coaching the girls’ team for 18 months. She said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for these kids
“I think the fact that there maybe wasn’t the structure for kids to continue playing the sport has meant a lot who would have liked to have just fallen away, but this lets them stay involved.
“Just having this opportunity to celebrate sport in Lanarkshire is brilliant.”