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The Help for Heroes sitting volleyball team is celebrating a successful season after reaching a major final and having five players picked for Great Britain.

More importantly, the team of veterans have enjoyed the camaraderie from being around others who have served, as well as the physical and mental health benefits of competitive sport.

They played in the Volleyball England Grand Prix series, which is the sport’s top club competition. After winning their league consisting of six teams and then a semi-final, they reached a grand final against defending champions Sitting Bucks.

After a hard fought and close final, our team just missed out on top spot.

Sitting volleyball team having a team talk.
Head coach Charlie Walker (second from left, top row) giving a team talk. - Credit: Phil Gibbin.

To round off a fantastic season, five players were then called up to the Great Britain squad: Emmanuel 'Emmy' Akor, Frank Aveh, Danny Kitcher, Charlie Walker (our Head Coach), and Darren Young.

‘Sitting volleyball takes away all the worry and anxiety’

Army veteran of 13 years Danny was medically discharged due to spinal and bilateral shoulder injuries

He said: “I’ve had an injury for a long time. And I get numbness and weakness to both arms and legs from it. When I’m playing sitting volleyball it takes away all the worry and anxiety.

“After my injuries, I had a bit of negative self-talk and I found myself at a crossroads. My self-confidence, mental toughness and physical ability declined. Sitting Volleyball has helped me physically, mentally and socially.

“Participating in the Grand Prix plays a pivotal role in my life. It has maintained my self-confidence and helped me break through mental barriers. I genuinely believe that within adversity lies a new opportunity to get stronger and healthier. Playing this sport with my teammates is a beacon of hope for me.”

A man sat getting ready to serve in sitting volleyball game.
Danny Kitcher prepares to serve for the Help for Heroes sitting volleyball team. - Credit: Phil Gibbin.

It’s the bonding with everyone in the squad that’s the big thing for me. When we win it’s a bonus.


Veteran and sitting volleyball player

After serving for seven years in the Army and training as a tank driver, Emmanuel Akor was involved in a terrifying training incident when a tank he was in caught fire. Fully loaded with ammunition, the noise was intense and Emmy has suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder since.

He said: “After service, sporting activities have been a therapy for me. When I get involved in any sporting activities I feel satisfaction, optimism and self-esteem. And that helps reduce stress and anxiety.

“Being in the Army was the best thing in the world and I miss it, especially the friends.

“Being able to get together with other veterans and play this sport means so much. It’s the bonding with everyone in the squad that’s the big thing for me. When we win it’s a bonus.”

‘It’s all about the camaraderie and sense of belonging’

Francis was a very active sportsman during his Army career, representing his unit in individual and team sports. He was injured playing competitive sport in the Army and was then injured again on tour in Afghanistan. He has needed several operations and has developed post-traumatic stress disorder.

He said: “For me, it’s all about the camaraderie and sense of belonging. It has been a good season.

“Sport for me is a big part of my recovery. It helps me have a healthy lifestyle, helps me stay fit and is good for my mental health.”

A player making a shot in a sitting volleyball game.
Action from the Sport England sitting volleyball grand final. - Credit: Phil Gibbin.

It’s easy to get isolated for large periods of time, and being in this team takes you out of that.


Veteran and sitting volleyball player

‘You can’t beat being part of a team’

After 21 years in the Army, Chris Anslow found his medical discharge and transitioning to civilian life tough.

He describes getting back into competitive sport as ‘life changing’.

“You can’t beat being part of a team. Being in the Army was all about being in a team.

“This is my first season with the Help for Heroes sitting volleyball team, and I’ve loved it. What I’ve most enjoyed is the teamwork and friendship. It’s great to be part of something bigger than yourself again.

“It’s easy for people to get isolated for large periods of time, and being in this team takes people out of that. Being around others who understand you and don’t judge makes a huge difference.

“We want to do well, but it doesn't really matter if we win. It’s about having fun and doing our best.”

A team shot of sitting volleyball players.
Team spirit and camaraderie have been integral to our sitting volleyball team's successful season. - Credit: Phil Gibbin.

Want to be part of a team and enjoy camaraderie and sport again? We can make that happen, whatever your sporting or physical ability. Why not get in touch today?

Get in touch today