devo's volleyball – Australian volleyball: news and views

Poll – what do we expect?

Posted by devo on January 28, 2010

I spoke to Volleyball Australia CEO Joan Perry at AVSC 2+ years ago about the internet and related subjects. At that time she told me that there was a problem with some staff who were not “internet literate”. And that this was a problem that would have to be corrected. They would have to learn.

The women’s program and junior programs – due mainly to Teresa Henderson and some dedicated coaches and parents – have established blogs to keep us up-to-date with their programs when competition is happenning. This has been fantastic for the fans of Aussie volleyball. We can follow what’s happenning; be involved. Even see video of matches!

The men’s /AIS program, unfortunately, has not been so forthcoming. There was a time when coaches would SMS results and MVP’s to me so that I could put them up. That nolonger happens. There are at least 2 “officials” on this tour who are very computer savvy. They have not been in areas where the internet or phone is difficult to access as is sometimes the problem. Parents seem to be getting some information. It is busy on tour, but a quick mail to Volleyball Aus on the bus going home should see results up by the following morning. Why isn’t this happenning?

It appears that CEO Joan is either unwilling, or unable, to insist that part of the duties of a touring Aussie squad is to keep us fans informed. To publicise our sport. Joan, give them a smart phone and show them how to use it!

Jump on the poll in the left hand column and let Joan know what you see as a minimum response on the Volleyball Australia web site at the end of an Aussie match. See also this post.

20 Responses to “Poll – what do we expect?”

  1. Alan Cahill said

    In the short term we have had a questionable response to the Crawford Report,interesting criteria for the unanimous re-appointment of the CEO,a worrying ranking drop of our National Teams and poor communication of the AIS OS tour.

    Canberra need some ‘wins’ in a hurry!

  2. In light of the crawford report it certainly wouldn’t hurt for people in High Performance (not just in volleyball) to win over the support of the wider public by publishing scores etc.

    I’d like to see scores and stats. Let the journalists and public decide and debate who they think was the MVP.

    After all, AFL coaches aren’t required to publicly and unequivocally state who their best players were after a match unless asked by the media. The media does that. But then media also takes stats too, which is a luxury i guess volleyball does not have.

    Please tell us how our teams are doing so we know who, and what it is we’re defending.

    • Allan said

      I am very interested in Volleyball and especially sites like this where the passion for the game can surface. The issue for all community sport like Volleyball is it serves many masters and hence agendas of individuals permeate all levels. What is lost on most is the role of the sport at its essence is to produce a skilled player and that means making them the best they can be. Therefore for me the business side of volleyball for Joan as she would probably agree has only two basic functions: marketing to attract and retain the talent and innovation to value grow (make sufficient $ to grow the participation and appeal)the sport and make players want to be the best they can and give them a clear competition pathway to do same. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.

      Where maybe we could all spend more time to assist AVF especially Joan is how to innovate rather than react to issues as no doubt Joan already contends with many people who are happy to manage the status quo rather than lead the sport bottom up. And leading a tribe like Volleyball any movement for change to assist Joan must come from the grass roots.

      In community sport we have to acknowledge and understand the volunteer culture. This culture is what is good about sport and it creates a great involvement that underpins the essence of the game which is to create the skilled player who is trying to be the best they can. However this culture is very wary of change and to try and lead change as a volunteer is surrounded in risk and vested interest and for most the benefits of leading change is subordinate to the risk of being part of the idea stuffing up. Also for gaining corporate support, companies find it difficult to work with many administrations that are made up of time poor volunteers who feel safer managing the status quo. The lower profile sports cannot many times understand the word “parnership” is what a sponsor craves.

      This stream of commentary on the site snipes at the sport and some is localised , even personal and many times trivial. Maybe you need to bring your collective minds moreso to how to create a movement for change that galvanises the volleyball community to a more strategic theme rather than react to singular issues which are symptoms of greater problems. Try and respond with real thought about what is the real problem or opportunities for the sport. Our real challenge is to initiate change if you want to contribute to building the brand of volleyball not just react to ideas and directions you dont like or maybe dont understand.

      By example would we as a community have any remote idea of the demand the community creates for goods and services ? Have we ever quantified in even a simple way how much $ we all allow as participants to leak out of the sport at the grass roots level. Lets just guess the average volley ball registered and paid up player spends conservatively $400 getting themselves on the court in apparel, footwear and equipment. Lets say there are 150,000 active players in the game (across all levels if we include schools). Could the sport then be considered a $60M performance wear and equipment business ? Lets assume the suppliers to the sport in all their forms then land that product at a cost to themsleves of say $20M. That means someone is getting probably $40M of margin on the sports demand for product and services.

      In business this is termed revenue leakage. So would we at the grass roots think it would be fair that the sport finds a way to get its fair share of that leakage? Simply find a way to democratize our own constituency spend to itself ?

      Why dont we all start thinking about how to organise the sport and trap these revenues more fairly to the sport? This has to come bottom up as many at the grass roots dont like people at the top in these communities imposing any direction or rules towards you unless you all buy in. Isn’t that crazy that if the sport tried to create a deal that allowed the sport to allow you all to buy more cheaply or with enhanced value and trap some of those $ to the sport that still many would go ballistic and fight that direction about having to do that? Yet think it through that means those same people who bleat will still have to spend the $ elsewhere and then allow someone elses pocket to be lined not the sport !

      What would a club or an individual give over to get the sport access to say $8M or $10M of that $60M demand it creates and is going to spend anyway? Should we be more discretionary where and how we spend our demand for products and services?

      How could we mobilise the grass roots to work together in a partnership with the sport administrators and stop this leakage. Forge partnerships and attract commercial accumen that can help the community monetise its sizeable participation franchise (people who play).

      Are we truly prepared to align our data as players nationally so sponsors and partners can actually begin to have a conversation with the community and truly engage? How do we keep the data clean and relevant to our partners? It is absolute nonsense to think any meaningful sponsor will get on board with volleyball for branding exposure only. Those days are gone. A sponsor wants to engage with us all directly with a relevant offer. Volleyball has valuable properties to market but no real sponsor will touch it until you can show how they can trust the community and contract with the sport from top to bottom and the community will meet its end of the bargain to allow the engagement to truly happen.

      What is also staggering is many bleat about privacy of data in community sport. I love to ask those same people to open their wallets and lay out all their cards and memberships of clubs etc and tell me that they dont tell those card communities whatever they need to about themselves to be part of that card community. These same people want to stop Volleyball community having a democratic right of organising itself and deriving benefits from their own cause and passion – Volleyball.

      To many people predict the future and arrogant enough to try and say they know what their community wants or not. I would challenge volleyball grass roots community that it knows little or nothing about its community and its likes and dislikes, what other sports they play, their goals and aspirations, their needs. You cant know because you wont all allow a conversation to happen to find out. Their is a whole generation that spills its guts every day on all aspects of their lives via google, facebook, twitter, you tube …….. All these networks are ones you opt in to and volleyball is no different but we are prevented from aggregating our demand and getting a return for what we create because we wont allow the network to be tapped.

      How deep is the real resolve of the grass roots to want to see volleyball prosper ? Change cant come from the top in these times. The top must mobilise the bottom to help the bottom lead the bigger discussion of how to increase the relevance of the sport and increase its value to the grass roots community.

      To keep potting individuals and the sport in general on local issues is only symptomatic of deeper problema and is ignoring those bigger issues. In community sport change must be led bottom up and with a cause that unifies the group.

      If the community can liberate itself from old status quo models of thinking and unite around monetising the enormous participation franchise we have created and its demand then change can be transformational. It can then be funded to become more relevant in the sporting landscape and engage in the war for talent with other sports.

  3. Joan Perry said

    Interesting that devo’s volleyball community has such a tendency to focus on the negative and rarely searches for or comments on the positive.

    Seems easy for people to sit in glass houses and throw stones.

    How about a dose of reality.

    Since I spoke with Allan DeSalvo about Internet and related subjects the following has occurred:

    1. We have employed an IT/Communications Officer in Teresa Henderson who has been responsible for modifying various sections of the website and keeping the community informed and she does this very well

    2. Every AVL match has had live match reports (70 per year) as well as in some instances live streaming

    3. The Sport Development section of the website has been significantly enhanced and now contains a resource section where people can purchase on line materials

    4. We have established not only the Women’s Blogs when they tour but also the Junior blogs (Beach and Indoor)

    5. Australian Volleyball Schools Cup has maintained its publication of hourly on-line results

    6. Australian Junior Championships is providing more detailed up-to date daily results

    7. After nearly ten years of “saying” we were going to do it, all member state associations have agreed to the implementation of a national database for the sport which will make several functions operate more efficiently – should be ready by August

    8. We are working on an on-line entry system which should be usable for our National Beach Championships in the middle of March

    9. After inheriting a less than stable budget when I began with the Federation and consequently running at a $353,000 loss in 2007/08 the finances were turned around to the point where the Federation delivered an $80,000 surplus in 2008/09

    10. Relationships with our key stakeholders are much improved

    The fact of the matter is that Devo and its contributors have chosen to focus on the lack of results and information from the Men’s program only and make generalised statements about the AVF as a whole as a result. I will take the particular matter of men’s results (or lack thereof) into consideration and deal with it as necessary, but trust that people will also start to notice positives as well.

    Glad to see that you posted the announcement about the sponsorship for the National Beach Championships – certainly a positive for the sport and a step in the right direction.

    Now I will get back to my daily responsibilities

    • To be fair, this site has commended AVF on providing a number of the points you have reaised above, and if not, it has certainly pointed many in the direction of these resources. Bear in mind, a link, a reference or just being featured on a high traffic site is about as high a compliment as you can expect to get on the blogosphere.

      This blog has been even handed on what AVF does and doesn’t do. Allan has probably brought the AVF website more traffic (and scrutiny) and gotten people talking about volleyball which is a good thing.

      I am impressed, Joan, that you do come here and speak to your stakeholders online. I wish more CEOs and leaders of organisations would. As a courtesy i ask everyone out there that they be critical but polite. It’s not pleasant to see people speak to a CEO in a harsh tone. And after all, we’d prefer the people who run our sport to participate in these discussions than not.

    • devo said

      Pleased to hear that you are going to look at the men’s result issue Joan.

      I suggest that reread paragraph 2 above: The women’s program and junior programs – due mainly to Teresa Henderson and some dedicated coaches and parents – have established blogs to keep us up-to-date with their programs when competition is happenning. This has been fantastic for the fans of Aussie volleyball. We can follow what’s happenning; be involved. Even see video of matches!

      I take every opportunity to post positive comments on Aussie volleyball. But I will not step back from publishing problems where I see them.

      Sorry to have dragged you away from your daily responsibilities.

      • StevenB said

        Gee sounds like such an inconvenience to have to break from daily duties.
        The real dose of reality, is that the volleyball community have had to look to Devo’s site for up to date information on Australian volleyball. Nowhere is there the range of information available on this site in Australia.

        The visitor to this site are passionate volleyballer, stakeholders and if devovolleyball didn’t exist we would know next to nothing about the players and teams which we are fans of.

        To criticise devovolleyball and its contributors is bloody annoying and rude.

        I guess I, like many others mustn’t be “key stakeholders”, because my relationship hasn’t been improved with this little performance by Ms. Perry

  4. Ezra said

    I think it’s a big step for Joan to come on Devo and make a post like that, I also think it’s a big step for the Roadshow they brought around and it shows that they ARE trying new things and are looking at the betterment of the sport (yes I’m sure you won’t find betterment in the dictionary lol)

    With all things there will always be positive and negative, yes the performance of our teams is a negative (as shown in the latest rankings of our national teams), but the financial recovery of AVF is a big positive. The more money there means more money for the sport, and that is a good step in the right direction.

    I too would like to see our national results posted on our national site instead of having to search for them or to facebook someone, it gives our younger players something to look up to, to emulate, and to be able to talk to their friends about…. most feedback for volleyball is spread from word of mouth so obviously the more talk we can get out there the better.

    I understand Joan’s frustration with the negative talk that can happen on Devo, but I don’t think that’s because it’s on Devo, I just think that’s what people do, they find the negative and expect it to improve… Tall Poppy Syndrome they call it. I’m definitely not having a go at ANY poster on Devo, because I know that I do it too… but I do understand our frustration that things we say aren’t given as much thought or consideration as they probably deserve or we think they deserve :o) I mean we are the customer here and providing feedback, it’s not always going to be good… but receiving feedback is better than NOT receiving feedback as it shows your customers care.

  5. Murph said

    I voted scores, its easily available and any person on the trip can do it, in the minimal amount of time, and is a good base for people to gain information and interest.

  6. Ballboy said

    Sometimes it’s the negative comments that bring about positive change. If we all sat about, smiled and applauded like lemmings to and unsatisfactory situation, nothing would change. Good on you devo, the VB community recognises your massive contribution.

  7. Joe said

    I voted for “Scores, MVP and short stats”, which I think is reasonable and from what Alexis said should be prepared anyway, so it should just be a matter of pressing send.

    Regarding AVF performance, to start with the positive I think we as a sport are lucky to have Joan and again commend her on being open and engaged as well as implementing significant improvements to the professionalism of the AVF. She is by far and away the best CEO we have had. That isn’t to say things could be done better, of course they could be and I am often the first to point it out :). The Crawford report response was terrible, the AVL is a waste of time and effort as currently structured, but the latter is easily fixed and the former I guess is a learning experience for whoever authored it.

    Regarding the relationship between the AVF and Devo Commentators perhaps it is a mindset issue, but I like to think that what happens on here is constructive criticism rather than outright negativity. “This is crap” is negative. “This is crap and this is how it could be done better” is constructive. I like to think most comments are of the latter variety.

  8. paterico said

    Sorry, have to comment on this one.

    4. We have established not only the Women’s Blogs when they tour but also the Junior blogs (Beach and Indoor)

    Who’s we?

    The Chau Les and the Stephen Rogers of this volleyball community I am most impressed with. The hours these guys have spent promoting this sport at the junior elite level amazes me-and they pay for the privilege!

    I think you need to erase number 4 off your list Joan-sorry!

    • Chau said


      In Joan’s defense, Teresa Henderson (of the AVF) did create the women’s blogs. Most of the time the players on tour contributed to the daily blog. We just made sure that the blogs got updated everyday with scores, stats, match reports and anecdotes.

      We tried to provide the folks back home with as much information as we could because we knew people were interested in how the team was going.

      • devo said

        And we really appreciated it Chau. It was great.

        The question still remains – why hasn’t the men’s program been told to pick up their act?

        • paterico said

          Thanks for the clarification Chau. I still know how much time you put in though! And you’re right Devo, it’s a shame we can’t maintain a consistent approach to getting the information out to the volleyball public. I keep volunteering but maybe it’s time for me to go do something else!

  9. Player said

    the boys from the AIS would love a blog to be up and running for them from the toour to keep our parents and friends updated on the results from our games and experiences.

    • Ballboy said

      Player, it is easy, start a thread on Devo at the start of your tour, and keep commenting on that thread as your tour progresses. With the amount of hits on devo compared to the AVF site, you will have a lot more coverage. An added bonus is keeping your families and friends updated.

      • devo said

        We would be happy to oblige at any time. But contact Teresa Henderson at Volleyball Australia and I’m sure she would set up your very own blog.

        We’d all be happy!

  10. paterico said

    There’s a blog already there for the ’91 & ’93 boys cycle. I’m happy to give the username and password to anyone wanting to take it over- be it parent, player or coach. It’s really not that hard. Would be great to see it keep going. The last tour to New Zealand I was happy to do it though my son did not go. Funnily enough, I heard one of the coaches was surprised that I wanted to do it, given he wasn’t selected to go. I’m bigger than that!

    • devo said

      I hope someone does take it up. As Paterico says, it’s easy to run one of these blogs; it’s the time commitment that burns you up a bit.

      It certainly is great that you kept it going last tour. Great info and content, delivered almost by the set! A model for others. But it does become harder to keep up the enthusiasm once your child is nolonger in the “system.” Feeling it a bit myself at the moment ;-)

      If you want to check out the Aussie blogs, I’ve put up the links in the left hand column.

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