Mover & Shaker | Peter Karreman (NED)

Peter Karreman is a name that transcends Sitting Volleyball around the globe.  First known for his work in his home country of the Netherlands, Peter has spent the majority of the last decade working across Sub Saharan Africa with the Rwandan teams and beyond.  First finishing 9th in London 2012 with the men, and then establishing a women’s team that bettered that with an 8th place finish in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.  Now he working closely with World ParaVolley to utilise his experiences and knowledge on the coaches pathway whilst also getting his book “Onbeperkt, de wereld aan mijn voeten” (Unlimited, the world at my feet) translated into English.

1 – How did you get involved in Sitting Volleyball?

In 2004 I met Jouke de Haan just by coincidence. I was the technical manager at my local volleyball club and he came to tell us more about Sitting Volleyball.  I was already a volleyball trainer and coach on a national level. Jouke’s story really interested me.  From that moment on, I was ‘sold’ and continued to work with Jouke on clinics, sessions and initiatives around the Netherlands.

Then in 2007 there was a vacancy for head coach for the mens national team so I applied and they accepted my application.   I held this role till 2010 along with leading on the Dutch youth team.  I got involved more and more and Pierre van Meenen asked me to assist in the women’s qualifier for the WC 2010 in Oklahoma (USA).  Together with Joze Banfi and Pierre we organised the tournament and organised a course coaches in Nairobi (Kenya).  From that moment on, I became instructor and tutor for WPV.

In April of 2010 I received a phone call from Rwanda, asking if I was interested to guide the men’s team to and during the WC 2010. Through until 2017 I was volunteer for the National Paralympic Committee of Rwanda and loved every minute of it.  The main highlights were the Paralympic Games in 2012 with the men and 2016 with the women.

2 – What is it that motivates you each day to further develop our sport?

First of all, I have a great passion for volleyball itself. Already from the age of 13, I practiced volleyball and after my I finished my academic degree in Physical Education, I became a trainer and coach in this sport. During these years I mostly worked in the second division level of volleyball.

From the moment I got involved with Sitting Volleyball it infected me, like a virus, and since then, I never let it go. I still do projects and activities for WPV and look back fondly at running coaching courses in Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and the Netherlands.

The motivation is comparable to falling in love. You can’t explain in detail why, but you know you don’t want to live without it.

3 – What has been your biggest achievement in Sitting Volleyball to date?

The biggest achievement is surely setting up a woman team from scratch to being African Champions in just 5 years and the effect that had on other African countries.

It all started with my involvement for Rwanda in 2010. Being passionate and energetic I brought the Rwanda Sitting Volleyball to a higher level. Until 2010 Sitting Volleyball in Africa was mainly practiced by the Arab countries only.  Then a breakthrough in the Sub Sahara Championship caused an enormous development in this sport.

Besides the training and coaching of the national team, I was involved in and gave advice on organisational and sports infrastructure matters. Together with the NPC I set up a systematic approach, I wrote long-term plans and developed trainers and coaches in the region.

Participating in the WC 2010 (USA) with the men team, was the first time for Rwanda to show itself to the world. Participating at the Paralympics 2012 (Londen) was the first time that an African team from the Sub Sahara region was present and the gap with Egypt had got significantly smaller.

Then in 2011, Sitting Volleyball for woman was set up from scratch. Most of the ladies had never held a real volleyball ball in their hands, let alone played with it. I set an ambitious plan to reach the Paralympic Games in Rio.  It took more than a year for the plans to be approved but in 2013 we could get started. Until then, there had only been a few training hours in between the men’s sessions for women but training camps and practice tournaments were planned towards the African Championships in 2013. Unfortunately, this event was cancelled just 2 weeks before, but we stayed focused and just adapted our plans. A practice camp with Uganda (2013) and with Egypt (2014) were planned. Reaching the African Championship in 2015 was the turning point of woman’s Sitting Volleyball in Africa. The victory over Egypt was very memorable. I immediately set up an ambitious (and almost unpayable for Rwanda) preparation programme for Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. For a lot of events and training camps I managed to get funding or sponsorship.

Playing many exhibition matches at a high level increased their lead over other African countries. Nowadays the presence of the Rwanda woman’s team at major tournaments is indispensable.

In addition of the Rwanda development, this also had an effect on the other African countries. The ambition and successes showed that a lot is possible. Many other countries are therefore trying to follow in Rwanda’s footsteps to this day.

4 – How would you explain Sitting Volleyball to someone in 12 words or less?

The most attractive, fast and energetic sport, for abled or disabled sports people.

5 – Where/how do you see Sitting Volleyball in 10 years time?

I think that Sitting Volleyball has the potential to grow into a leading Paralympic Sport. The number of countries playing SV continues to expand, so the level will increase. Especially Africa has the most opportunities to grow.  However, on the other hand I see a big challenge in the financials, most countries (and especially in Africa) don’t invest enough in Paralympic sports.

The ‘Movers & Shakers’ initiative is aimed at giving more recognition to those that are developing Sitting Volleyball around the globe.

It can be anyone working in the sport, whether they have excelled at promoting it, ran a successful competition, started a new club/activity, organised events to increase awareness, influenced people for the greater benefit of the sport or a combination of the above.

Please do let us know if you know of someone who deserves to be highlighted by e-mailing with the following:

  • Full name
  • e-mail address
  • Country in which they mainly work
  • A short justification of why you are putting them forward

Their story will also offer others a chance for others to learn from their good practise and use what works in their area for even greater benefit.  This is your chance to give recognition to those who promote and build the sport of sitting volleyball.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Previous Mover & Shakers:

Robinson Tunwesigye (UGA)

Olga & Oleg (ISR)

Isabelle Collot (FRA)

Daniel Lopez (ESP)

Anton Raimondo (RSA)

Nello Calleja (MLT)

Richard Stacey-Chapman (GBR)

Robert Grylak (GER)

Elliot Blake (USA)

Stephane Girodat (FRA)