Annual General Meeting 2024

Please note that Richmond Volleyball’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) for 2024 will be held at 19:00 on Wednesday 24th July at The Bishop, 2 Bishop’s Hall off Thames Street, Kingston, KT1 1PY. This is a great opportunity to learn about the Club’s activities, celebrate our successes and have your say about the Club’s future. Club members must confirm their attendance by no later than 17:00 Monday 22nd July by emailing If you are unable to attend, please nominate another Club member to be your proxy for voting. Please do this by emailing and include the email address of the member you wish to be your proxy. Please note we need to receive proxy nominations by 17:00 Monday 22nd July at the latest.

Great Performance by Richmond at the UKBT Club Championships 2024

We’re very proud of all Richmond teams that took part in the UK Beach Tour Club Championships this weekend!

In the Championship Division our women’s team consisting of Katie Keefe & Martha Bullen, Cleo Jongedijk & Elisa Jarmon came within 2 points of the final, in the golden set of the semifinal against the eventual winners Deep Dish Bournemouth. After 2 days of tough competition the girls came 4th (out of 13).

The in the Men’s Championship Division, our team of consisting of Zak Maghur & Bailey Harsum, Ben Sanders & Romario Stambullio came a very respectable 7th (out of 13), being the only team in the competition with all players under 18. They came within a golden set of making it to the semifinal in a tough quarterfinal against eventual winners Fireball North Devon.

In the Men’s Trophy competition our young team of Rease Jarmon & Ben Sizoo came 17th (out of 20) and gained a lot of experience against strong adult competition.

In a strong Mixed Trophy competition we entered three teams at both ends of the spectrum with the junior team of Tyler Sourmarie & Tilly Hutton, and the senior teams Martin Rees & Arzu Davis and Mike Keefe & Sarah Keefe putting in a great effort to finish 19th, 18th and 23rd (out of 28) respectively.

Overall, taking into account all the competitions, the club made a great improvement over last years result coming a respectable 8th out of 15 clubs. Especially with the number of young players that took part, this bodes very well for next year!

Well done and thank you to all the teams that took part!

Success at the National Finals and Noah Goalen named VE Young Coach of the Year

Peter Soczewka’s under 18 Boys secured an impressive victory with a mature all round performance against Newcastle Staffs.  Romario Stambolliu was awarded the MVP award in the 3-0 victory but the entire squad played a part in the success, on Sunday, and in the previous rounds.  And with the majority of the squad eligible for next season the future looks bright for Soczewka’s side.

At the same time, our under 15 Girls put up a valiant fight against Leeds Gorse.  Richmond staged a dramatic late comeback in the fourth set but Leeds managed to hold on to take the 3-1 win.  

Earlier in the day, Marjana Erminio’s under 18 Girls lost out to Boswells School in a high quality final. 

Under 18 Girls

And debut coach Jean Max Sourmarié, was disappointed to see his under 15 Boys side lose 3-0 in a close contest with Urmston Grammar but vowed to be back next year for revenge.

Under 15 Boys

On Saturday our under 16 Girls got the weekend underway but unfortunately were unable to defeat Boswells in the final.

Under 16 Girls

Club Chair Andy Hopper commented, “We’re all extremely proud of all our teams and to reach five finals is a great achievement in itself.  All our athletes, coaches and managers represented the club with great pride and played all the matches with a fantastic spirit.  Congrats to all involved and thanks to all the volunteers and parents for all their support.”

Congratulations to Noah Goalen who was awarded the Young Coach of the Year award at the Volleyball England Awards.  Goalen led the under 16 Boys to the National Cup semi finals and mentored a number of our boys throughout our junior programme.  George Ruddick was also runner up in the same category. Well done Noah and George!

Noah Goalen

Ivo Dobra – a Libero’s lot

Interview with Ivo Dobra, Richmond Docklands libero

Ivo, how did you start to play volleyball?
I was first playing football. From four years old, all the way up to 15. When you’re from a small school, obviously you have to play multiple sports. And then I just gave volleyball a go. And then my teacher said, oh, you know, you’re good, you should go and try out. There’s only one men’s team in my city (Karditsa, Greece), my dad knew a lot of people, so he knew the coaches. I tried and then for one year, I played both football and volleyball competitively, which was hard. And then I just chose volleyball.

What’s the main difference between volleyball in Greece and England?
In Greece, it was always a lot of people who came to watch, people who maybe weren’t interested in volleyball. It’s just going to see sports for entertainment. I hope volleyball in the UK evolves because it’s a really big sport and hopefully we’re going to see England in the European Championships and hopefully something like that happening in the future.
Do you know that your family name, Dobra, means good.
Yes, in any Eastern European language, I know.

How do you become libero, did you play it from the beginning?
Oh, no. My first position initially was middle because I was the tallest one in my squad. And then I worked, I played a lot of beach, so then my passing improved and then I got moved to outside. After some time my coach said that he wanted to promote me to play with the men’s team. He told me you’re good, but if you want to play at the highest level, you will play as a libero. I remember that conversation. There would always be a taller guy, a stronger and physically bigger than you. So if you want to play high level, you have to go as libero. Then I tried it, I liked it and then I stuck with it.

What do you love about being a libero and playing volleyball?
I always loved and play football. Libero is the goalkeeper of the team, he’s in similar positions because you don’t always touch the ball, and you’re not always involved in the play. I would more or less compare it with being someone in the midfield doing the dirty work. You always have to look after someone’s mistakes. You always have to look after someone’s play, and actions, and try to correct anything. You’re sort of guiding and directing the play without actually being involved in the play and it’s just something intriguing.

So you’re trying to read the game and predict the future?
No, not to predict the future, but you will see small gaps that exist in the opponents and for that split second that you have between plays, you can tell the attackers, I saw this. If you want to go after it, you can give them some. It’s not advice because you’re not in their position. You can’t make the decision for them, but you can give them some heads up, some pointers or something that you see that they might not see. It’s not exactly predicting the future, but it’s more of, you know, seeing things from the outside. It’s the same as a coach, but it’s on the court. Men’s volleyball is such a hard sport at the highest level because within 10 seconds after the serve, it’s finished super quick. You can’t defend everything.

What is the hardest thing about being libero?
Staying concentrated. You’re not involved in the play always, you can’t cover the whole court. So staying concentrated and in 25 points, like if they serve at your team 25 times if you touch the ball more than five times as a libero, then that’s good. Otherwise, it’s a good allocation of service. So it’s staying concentrated and always being ready to go and always your touch, always having to be perfect every time you go.

Tell us about Richmond, how did you get here and what do you think about the team this season?
I joined last January mid-season just after Christmas. I only came to the UK four years ago. So I didn’t even know volleyball existed in the UK, to be honest. But slowly some digging here and there and then I found a few teams and then I joined a couple of lower national division teams. I played there in NBL, division Two and then while playing volleyball I met some people. And then last summer they did the Summer Games, a good way of sort of recruiting people, providing high-quality volleyball games around London. I went there and then I met the coach Marcel and I started training here. Richmond is a big club, one of the biggest in England I would say in terms of people involved in playing. And Richmond Docklands men’s Super League team is part of it. So being a part of it is just nice. It’s always good to play for a big and historic club like Richmond.

Can you say something special about the Richmond team? What’s different compared to other clubs?
I haven’t been to many clubs, it’s just something that sticks to me. With Marcel and then with Andy, and then all of the people involved in Richmond is just a lot of expertise, a lot of experience in volleyball. So it’s good to get advice from people that have been in my shoes for a long time and I have played for my position a long time. It’s just good guidance coming from the top to the bottom, like mentoring.

We hope our interview will be read by some players from our junior teams. Could you give them advice on how to be a good volleyball player? How to be a good libero?
I can’t say about how to be a good libero because I’m still personally evolving. I don’t think I’ve reached my maximum potential as a player. But keep your head down, just work hard. Don’t get down when things go wrong. Stay calm and stay concentrated. Trust your coaches and trust people that you know have been in the game for a long time.

Jared Uhlir – my volleyball life

Jared Uhlir is Richmond Docklands’ setter and vice-captain. He sat down with Stas Fatieiev to talk about his volleyball life.

How did you start playing volleyball?
I started playing volleyball when I was probably around 9 or 10. I kind of felt that it came 100% from my mother, she was a Division One NCAA volleyball player in the USA. I just wanted to be like my mom. I remember we started with a balloon, and then as it kept going, it just became something that came easily to me. I came from a very athletic family, like my uncles and my father, most of them all played for the University of Nebraska for American football. So that’s a Division One program. My grandfather was a basketball player. I just think that the older I get, I keep looking at my family and it all comes back to them. My grandfather actually became more of a father figure because he was the one that had to take care of me because my parents were young and working, and I was their first.

Tell us about your volleyball routine when you were a teenager
I just kept working and my mom on little skill sets that by the time I was in middle school, so around 12 to 13, I could play with our varsity girls. And at that time we were sending Division One recruits out of our very small high school in the middle of Nebraska.
But Nebraska has always been a staple for women’s volleyball. Jordan Larson is one of the best outsides in the world. She helped the women’s USA team win their first gold Olympic medal. And she came from a smaller town in Nebraska than I did. And so I’ve always been inspired by females, especially female athletes. I don’t know maybe it’s also being the gay part is that there was this men seem to always look down upon us, the girls and the gays. I kind of told myself I didn’t know for the longest time that men even play volleyball because it wasn’t a thing.

So when I look back from, like my childhood and my youth, I realise how lucky I was. I only really played four major tournaments in my whole teenage years but ended up at a Division One program. After my sophomores for my second year I became the starter

What’s the main difference between volleyball in the USA and in England?
The major difference is the culture behind it. I think at home, whether it’s sports or in life, there’s always someone there to take your spot. Like there’s never a certainty they will replace you because at the end of the day if you’re not putting in the work, they’re going to stop investing in you and there’s someone else that will want to do what you fail to want to do.
I think that if you look at American culture around any athlete it’s revered by people in the public eye especially if you succeed like the amount of advice Kobe Bryant, Serena Williams, Michael Phelps give. I always say that athletes are the modern gladiators. Yes, we’ve been watching great humans do marvellous things and we went from the ancient Romans and Greeks killing each other, to making it a game. So that’s really no different.

What do you think about Richmond Docklands team atmosphere?
The reason I chose Richmond was one I thought Marcel’s coaching was very parallel to coaches in the US, I think that is the style. I like the aggression, the intent, and all of that preparation. And then when I came to the summer trainings, I finally saw what I’ve been looking for everywhere in England, a group of guys that are willing to fight for it.
We don’t really know if we’re going to be successful. But if we don’t try, and we aren’t willing to go up against and go to battle, then what’s the point of doing it?

What do you think about our team?
I think that we’re growing together as a weird little family. I think volleyball is one of the hardest team sports out there because we rely at least on two people. But each person, like my mother, you always used to say, you’re only as good as your weakest person on the floor. So you could have an Olympian on your team and you can still lose because he can’t do everything. He has to have support. And so that’s where I think we have that fight.

And I think that deep down if you can conquer your fear of letting others down and support each other and create that family dynamic. But I always use the kind of mafia style at home is that, you know, they can pick on their family but the moment you step in and you try to mess with family, it’s now you have the whole family on you. And that’s the kind of mentality I use. I guess that’s how my family operates as well.

According to statistics, you and Vitor are two of the best servers in the team. And also from the Volleyball England stats you’re one of the top setters of the Super League. So tell us your secrets, how do you do your job on the ground?
My secrets? I do what I’m asked to do and what is needed. I think accolades and titles are overrated. I like to say that they’re for the fans, for the federations, for people. But as an athlete, you have a job to do and people are relying on you to do that job. And so my secret is that you remove your ego because your ego is the thing that tells you. And I’m not necessarily talking about egotistical as an ego. I’m talking about wanting to prove something to someone.
And at those moments your ego tells you that I need to beat them because they hit the ball harder at me. So I must hit the ball harder at him to prove a point. And in moments like those, that’s where you lose. And I say, I’ve been trying to come up with a good phrase for this that’s short and sweet. I say in times of stress, you don’t listen to your ego, you listen to your logic. And it’s very important to understand objectives and what you’re supposed to do, because in those moments that is what brings you to prosperity in my opinion.

What do you want to say to the young players who are just starting to play?
This might add another 5 minutes. Here we go. My biggest thing is the vision that you hold for yourself, whether it’s as an athlete or in life, is something that I find very sacred and divine, almost.
Because no matter how you try to explain what you see for yourself to someone else, they’ll never understand. You’ll never be able to explain it and they’ll never fully understand. And I think a lot of people in this world, and I, even for me, for a moment in time, gave up on that vision I saw for myself.
And so along this road, the quotes that are big right now is that your belief and expectations set your tone for your reality. So whatever you believe about yourself, whatever your expectations are for yourself, we’ll eventually make the world you live in. So if you always think that everything’s bad, the only thing that we’ll find you is bad, and but vice versa.

If you think I can do this, I’ll find a way to do this. Because at the end of the day, we all know that this world is very, very painful. There’s a lot of struggle and a lot of suffering. But at the end of it, if that’s the true case, then that means that you have to do something that is worth fighting for, that makes the pain all worth it.

And that’s the only thing that is that vision. And I believe that whatever God you believe in, whatever higher power gave you this image in your head, this thought, this is what I could be if I went down this path. And I think that’s part of our purpose is to discover what that is. And then as you go along this road, it’s very important to understand that whatever you give is what you get.

So once you start to find your purpose, it’s almost like self-actualization. When you start to self-actualize and that’s the psychology term for it. When you start to self actualize, then innately you become prone to help others do the same because at the end of the day then it becomes. So what you give is what you get.

And so and then my last big quote I guess I would say is that the key to success is force correction, the past. So every time you come up with an obstacle, you have to understand that hard things make you better. It’s not that your end goal is changing, it’s that you have to reassess. Because like I always say, if everything was fine, you would never change.

My grandfather said if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. So in theory if we are never presented with challenges, we’ll never readjust and we’ll never grow. So if you can accept the dark sides of what you know, you know the anxiety, the fear. Like fears are just doorways to what you want to become. And the only way to overcome your fear is to go through it. And it’s a very hard concept to understand. First, because it’s scary and the unknown scares all humans. That’s why we have hundreds of different religions trying to tell us what happens after we die. But regardless, we don’t know. You know it’s an unknown.

OK, the last four quick fire questions.

Your favourite book?
The Wim Hof Method
Favourite movie?

Favourite place?
I don’t know, maybe a beach somewhere.

Who is your favourite athlete?
Kobe Bryant. Volleyball specific I still think Jordan Larson is, and will always be. Larson, just because of the small town in Nebraska. I always wanted to be the male counterpart to her.

Join Waiting List We will inform you when the product arrives in stock. Please leave your valid email address below.