FIVB Foundation will push the sport’s popularity across the world


From left: FIVB Volleyball Foundation Executive Director Elizaveta Bracht, FIVB President Dr Ary Graca and Brahmaputra Volleyball League founder Abhijit Bhattacharya in Lausanne on May 30, 2024.

Photo credit: Courtesy of FIVB

What you need to know:

  • Githurai Volleyball Kimbo Academy in Kenya is home to 96 kids.
  • The academy is run by current and former players of the Club.

Last week, the global volleyball community witnessed a landmark event at the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Headquarters in Lausanne - the launch of the FIVB Volleyball Foundation.

The launch of the FIVB Volleyball Foundation saw FIVB President Dr Ary Graca mark yet another milestone in line with his campaign promise of “innovation and opportunity” when he first assumed office in 2012.

The FIVB Volleyball Foundation, which seeks to use the global reach and power of volleyball to support community projects worldwide that have a positive impact, now completes a trilogy that Dr Graca envisioned back in 2012 that also features the FIVB, which is the administrative arm, and Volleyball World - the commercial arm launched back in 2021.

While forming the Foundation, Graca’s vision was to help the global volleyball fraternity realise the social power of the sport in line with FIVB Goal Number 9, which is to make volleyball the number one sport that serves family needs through social development and humanitarian programmes.

By identifying pioneering projects from across the globe, the Foundation will support and provide funding and resources to advance certified projects that promote the social well-being of communities through volleyball. 

Two projects were selected as pilot projects for the Foundation - the Brahmaputra Volleyball League (BVL) in India and the Githurai Volleyball Kimbo Academy in Kenya.

While BVL boasts over 4,000 boys and girls who participate in their leagues across Assam state in India, Githurai Kimbo Academy is home to 96 kids, with Kenyan international Brian Kamonde as one of its shining beneficiaries.

The BVL has helped break cultural stereotypes and inspire hope among children from humble backgrounds to pursue their dreams. Another significant impact of the league is how it brought together communities.

Hub for volleyball talent

The BVL has become a source of pride for the people of Assam, who come out in large numbers to support their teams.

Githurai Kimbo, on the other hand, is run by current and former Githurai Kimbo Volleyball Club players, who serve as volunteer coaches supported by partners such as Lily Academy, a private school located in Githurai. 

The academy teaches volleyball and life skills and provides education support as a pathway to a brighter future.

Dreaded for its reputation for organised crime and other social vices, Githurai has recently emerged as a hub for volleyball talent, thanks to Githurai Kimbo Volleyball Academy.

Some of its notable beneficiaries include middle blockers Kamonde and Josphat Muchai, who play for top-tier clubs Kenya Ports Authority and Kenya Defence Forces, as well as Strathmore University’s men’s team libero Peter Kamau.

It’s amazing how these two projects use diverse means to arrive at the same goal - empowering communities through volleyball.

In his speech, Graca emphasised the need for The Foundation to also increase mass participation in the sport, citing the innate ability of volleyball to unite people.

“The Volleyball Foundation will play a vital role in promoting positive social values, helping to create a more collaborative and harmonious world,” said Graca, who is also the FIVB Foundation President.

Promoting social projects

“The Foundation is dedicated to creating a world where everyone has access to sport, no matter their gender, age, background or position. Where they have the opportunity to be healthy and active. To experience the joys of volleyball. And to learn important skills that will serve them throughout their lives.”

With an initial CHF 559,000 (Sh78 million) raised during the launch to get the Foundation up and running, and a strong leadership cast of former Russian international Elizaveta Bracht as Executive Director and volleyball legends Mireya Luis, Vladimir Grbic and Gilberto “Giba” Godoy as ambassadors, all signs point towards a well-run Foundation that could be a game-changer for volleyball in terms of popularity all over the world.

Volleyball is the fourth most popular sport globally, with more than 800 million fans. Moving forward, the Foundation will not only help the global volleyball community connect better but also ensure that volleyball rivals sports such as football in terms of community engagement.

As announced by Graça, FIVB plans to allocate an annual budget of CHF 1 million (Sh145 million) for the Volleyball Foundation in 2025 and 2026, pending the approval of the FIVB World Congress later this year.

This solid budget will allow the Foundation to expand its global reach in terms of the social projects it supports.

Key supporters of the Volleyball Foundation include renowned organisations KITT & KISS, Mikasa, Decathlon, the Qatar Foundation, Generations for Peace and the Jordan Olympic Committee, which means the provision of basic equipment such as balls and nets to various social projects will not be a problem.

By promoting social projects all over the world, the Foundation will bring volleyball to the doorstep of various homes, ensuring that volleyball is one of the few sports that young children make first contact with while growing up.

Given the flexible nature of volleyball as a sport, which means it can be played anywhere (sand, concrete, tarmac or cemented surface) and in the tiniest of spaces, this could translate to mass participation in the sport, which will boost its popularity and catapult it into the top three - another legacy to remember Dr Graca with as he enters the homestretch of his 12-year term.

Samuel Gacharira is a freelance journalist and sports consultant; [email protected]