Volleyball to unveil new technology at Schools Cup

Australia’s biggest schools sporting event is about to receive a major boost with the introduction of new technology which will revolutionise the way the competition is run.

The Australian Volleyball Schools Cup, which in 2016 will be the biggest ever with more than 500 teams attending from throughout the country, has always presented plenty of logistical challenges for event organisers.

But at least one of those headaches will be addressed this year, with the introduction of new digital scoring technology.

It’s a massive investment in technology by Volleyball Australia, and the Schools Cup in Melbourne will be the first time a digital platform on a mass scale will be introduced to volleyball in Australia.

It’s the brainchild of AVSC technical director, Peter McConnon, and Hellyn Saunders. Volleyball Australia CEO, Mathieu Meriaux, said the sport is incredibly fortunate to have McConnon and Saunders working on the project.

“It has been in my mind for five or six years,” McConnon said.

“I’ve always wanted this event to be the best event for schools offered in any sport, so it was just a matter of waiting for that point in time when the pendulum swung between "dreaming" and being realistically achievable.

“This event was transformed in the early 90's when it was realised that it was growing at a faster rate than the admin that was running the event.”

In simple terms, the new technology is a scoring app which will be downloaded on tablets on every court during the Schools Cup.

The Cup is played over 47 courts at three venues – the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre, the State Netball Centre and the State Volleyball Centre.

The App, which has been trialled at the Queensland Schools Cup, will eliminate delays between matches, provide more timely results and match schedules online, allow for progressive online scoring, and will free up volunteers previously tasked with manual scoring.

“Electronic scoring will provide key information during the week more quickly,” McConnon said.

“Teams will be informed immediately after they play what the consequences are. The flow on benefits of this are expected to be significant for participants and administrators alike.”

McConnon is under no illusion how big the task is confronting him, which is why he has to be certain even the most technologically challenged will feel comfortable.

“We will have close to 1500 new users over the week, and no matter what training aids we put in place most will turn up without having looked at anything,” he said.

“So the software has to be usable by people with no prior training, and even without knowledge of the role of the scorer.”

The annual Australian Volleyball Schools Cup will run from December 4-9.