Calling all exchange students heading to Tamworth
In the summer of 2016, an email arrived at Tamworth Spartans HQ from a German 16-year-old. Little did the club know at the time that that email was a pivotal point in the story of the season ahead. That email, from Clara Chwoika in Germany, was quickly followed by two similar emails from Italy.
All of their emails had a similar message – I’m coming to Tamworth in September on an exchange programme, and I’m a volleyball player, can I play with your club?
The answer was yes, of course!
For the students, coming to the UK for anything between four and ten months, the idea of being without volleyball in a country not known for the sport was not a cheerful prospect. But they had been placed in a medium sized English market town which has had a thriving club for men, women, boys and girls for 35 years.
For the club, already made up of nationalities from around the world, adding some more European names to the ranks was an exciting prospect. And having some enthusiastic younger players was always going to be a very good thing!
Fast forward to September and pre-season training. We soon met Clara – and within a couple of sessions, Chiara and Camilla arrived, the authors of the Italian emails. But with them also came Federica and Flavia, two more Italian students, who also wanted to play.
At Tamworth Spartans, there’s a place for everyone to play. All five of those girls played regularly for our three ladies’ teams. Chiara, Camilla and Clara played for the club’s National League team, finishing 3rd in their division.
Those three were also part of the regional 1st team – the team which won the league. Federica also played a match for the 1sts. And both Federica and Flavia – who were not volleyball players for a club at home but wanted to meet people and play a sport – became 2nd team players, helping that team to their highest ever league place of 3rd.
Not only that, but Camilla won player of the year for both teams, an award shared with Chiara for the NVL team, Clara was given coach’s award for the NVL team and Federica won player of the year for the 2nd team. Finally, Clara was selected to represent the club by playing for the West Midlands Under 16 squad at the inter-regional championships. Quite an impact!
So, for any exchange students in the future, the club says – get in touch! Whether you have played at the highest level in your country (like Chiara) or have only played at school but want to play a sport while you are in the UK (like Flavia), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we can’t wait to meet you!
You can see what ladies’ captain Kara Griffiths thinks about the programme below - but don’t take our word for it – see what the students themselves had to say!
The ladies of the club hold a farewell lunch for our Italian and German friends
Clara in action for the West Midlands U16s