Brokking rallies volleyball troops

26 July 2012 / 17:32

Great Britain's male volleyball players are being led into battle by an ex-Army soldier who has brought a tough-talking approach to their set-up.

Arie 'Harry' Brokking hails from the small village of Ede in Holland and immediately after finishing school spent a year representing his country in the armed forces.

He swapped the front line for the volleyball court after that, though, forging a successful career as both a player and coach in his homeland, before heading to Sheffield in 2007 when the British Volleyball Federation asked him to head up their newly-formed team.

He accepted the post and five years later is preparing for his third Games - this his first without sporting the traditional orange of Holland - but he has lost none of the fighting spirit he learned in his early days, something he demonstrated when discussing the approach his side will take.

"I never accept a loss, but every team can beat another and that is why we are training hard," he said.

"There must be a moment when these teams slow down or break down, and I hope the first moment they do will be against Great Britain, who they think will not be up to the tournament. That means you can grab them, take them by the throat, and squeeze."

One of those entrusted to execute such plans by Brokking is Scot Mark McGivern. Schooled in the Glasgow suburb of Bellshill, the 29-year-old is the second-oldest player in what is a largely young GB squad, who begin their campaign on Sunday against Bulgaria.

"I have the Olympic motto 'Citius, Altius, Fortius' on my arm," McGivern said. "I got it done four years ago to remind me to work hard towards my goal. I had to keep that in mind to make my dream come true.

"If we can win a game or two, the momentum can build. Volleyball is a quick-moving game, it's exciting and we can get the team moving. We're going to come out fighting. Our ranking isn't high because we've not played at ranking competitions, but we are a tough team.

"Our team formed because we won the Olympics, but we've got a young group that can move on and get the sport going forward. I'd like to work with young kids and get more people interested in the sport."