Acceptance Speech by Pieter Joon Induction

Holyoke (USA) October 22,  2022

Dear Mr President and  dear Volleyball Friends,

It is a great honor for me to share with you some history of Sitting Volleyball . Holyoke is the home town of Volleyball.   Haarlem, my home town, can be called the birthplace of Sitting volleyball.

After World War II, we saw sports as a new kind of therapy in many military rehabilitation centers. Ball games were very popular and were practiced in European countries and America, with many different rules and names, such as Fistball, Prellball, Sitzball.  Two members of the Dutch military sports committee, created a new sport Sitting Volleyball in 1956. Based on the indoor Volleyball rules, but sitting on a smaller field . This new sport was presented nationally and the first SittingVolleyball clubs were founded .

In 1961  I became a member of the club in Haarlem and played Sitting Volleyball for over 25 years. I even became a National Champion in 1964.  I experienced that the limitation of my legs was no obstacle in this sport. I took those experience with me in my further Volleyball activities as a coach, referee and Administrator

In 1979 I organized a pre-Paralympic tournament for Standing Volleyball and Sitting Volleyball . The main goal was for countries to get to know each other and also to stimulate the teams to register for 1980 Paralympics.   In 1980, 5 countries signed up for Standing Volleyball and 7 countries for Sitting Volleyball. This was the first success, and gained a lot of publicity.

During a meeting with the countries at the games I spoke about my vision and the future plans for International Sitting Volleyball  in which the countries had to be convinced to opt for volleyball and no longer for those rehabilitation sports.

In those days the influence of medical doctors was great and decisive. Sports should be fair for disableds and only compete against the same physical limitations. This is how the classification system was born

My idea was straight forward: Sport is not fair.

Sitting volleyball is a team sport and should be accessible to all athletes despite physical differences. No physical comparisons. We bring David and Goliath in one team, that is our strength.  It is even encouraged that all athletes play together. Inclusion promotes the quality of all players.

When I refer to disabled athletes, I mean all athletes who have a physical limitation to participate in any sport.

On April 24th, 1981 the International Volleyball Committee was appointed by the countries present and that was the birth of World Organization of Volleyball for the Disabled, now currently known as World ParaVolley.   The meeting supported my vision and decided to set  only a “ minimal physical disability“ for an athlete.

Plans for training our own classifiers, referees and coaches were set. For this we had the opportunity to finance training and development trajectories on 5 continents. This allowed us to introduce and stimulate our new sport worldwide.

In 2020 the Paralympic athletes choose Sitting Volleyball as the most popular and attractive Sport in the Paralympics. For me, this was the sign that the concept of “open sport” still caught on with all athletes.

I dedicate my Induction into this famous Hall to all SittingVolleyball players , offficials and Board members who supported my ideas. I look at my friend Joe Campbell , President of PanAm Zone. Thank you Joe for all your support.

Many thanks to World ParaVolley who took over my policy and is working so successfully and professionally to achieve our goal, and recognising the importance of history of the sport by recently publishing the historical booklet.

My special thanks to my wife Elly , my daughter and my grandson Nils, they are here. They supported me 100% and had to miss me a lot.

Finally I have a message for you all

My slogan is :  We are healthy today,  but that can be completely different tomorrow“

Around the world, 15% of the people have a disability . Besides that , we lose yearly thousands of sports friends due to a permanent  (sport)  injury.

You are requested to take a look around in your home situation.  See how your own Volleyball Federation guides the athletes who stop playing. is there a policy to recruit them. ?  Those who will and can play Sitting Volleyball , must be offered the opportunity to do so. Keep your friends with you and stimulate them to stay near you , in your own club, and be active in our sport.

To the Boards of National Volleyball Federations and FIVB :

Be open for Sitting Volleyball . Know your "target group"   and create a system to recruit YOUR players and stimulate national programs. Give sitting volleyball a clear place in your organizational struture .  Unfortunately, not all national federations have taken this step yet.  Support these countries, there is enough experience.

Sitting Volleyball can have the biggest competition worldwide for athletes with a limitation . Yes we can!

Big thanks to the Board of the International Volleyball Hall of Fame. You show the world that Paravolley belongs to the Volleyball family and certainly has added great and new value to the sports experience.

Sitting volleyball has a beautiful history.  A bright  future shines  through this international recognition?

Thank you,

Pieter Joon


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