27 September 2023
St Helen’s provides a wonderful environment for all students to flourish and succeed regardless of their interests and as a school they actively encourage students to pursue their passions through a wide range of academic subjects and co-curricular opportunities. Many of their students have gone on to represent England on the international stage. One of these students is Alice, a current Year 12, who spent this past summer break representing England at the Commonwealth Youth Games.
The international multi-sport event is organized by the Commonwealth Games Federation and it takes place every four years. Athletes must be between the ages of 14 and 18 in order to be eligible to take part. The Trinidad and Tobago edition, which took place over the first two weeks of August 2023, was the 7th edition and it welcomed over 1,000 young athletes from 68 nations. Alice and her teammate Daisy were selected to represent England in beach volleyball and while the pair have often played together, and at times against one another, the opportunity for them to represent their nation at this event was the realisation of a dream for them both.
Although beach volleyball is still a growing sport in England, it has seen a recent surge in terms of growth in popularity and participation. It is a team sport played by two teams of two players on a sand court. Similar to indoor volleyball, the objective of the game is to send the ball over the net and ground it on the opponent’s side of the court. Each team also works in unison to prevent the opposing team from grounding the ball on their side of the court. What makes beach volleyball such a cardio-intensive sport for those participating is that each team must only be composed exclusively of two players, both of whom must always be in play and who cannot be subjected to any substitutions or replacements.
Having to balance the incredibly high demands that this sport requires of her as well as maintain her academic standards has been a tough balancing act, but through determination, discipline and sheer tenacity Alice has managed to be at both her physical and mental best as evidenced by her recent results both on and off the court.
Their tournament began with games against Australia and Rwanda and after placing second in their group, they progressed to the next stage where they faced the Cayman Islands. This match proved to be a very tightly contested game. Eventually, the pair would come out victorious and secure a place in the quarter-finals where the pair came up against Kenya. This would prove to be their toughest test and after an exhausting match between two great teams, Kenya would eventually come out on top. The pair would ultimately finish 5th overall but for Alice, it wasn’t only about the results on the court, but also the opportunity to take part in such a large competition and represent England on the international stage that was the real highlight.
“The experience we had was amazing. I met loads of new people from all over the world and we have built bonds through our shared experiences at the tournament.” – Alice (Y12)