The Christmas Volleyball Tournament: It is more than just a tournament!
Spontaneous, impulsive, informal, enthusiastic, audacious, naive and enterprising. Just a couple of words which can tell us something about the Christmas Volleyball Tournament and about her history. Because who ever thought that a tournament started in 1949 can grow to a world class tournament.
In the spring of 1949 when volleyball appears in the small country The Netherlands, people decides to organise a volleyball tournament. In Assen there were to schools who participated, the games were played in the HBS’ small gym. Due to the success will the tournament repeated in 1950. Over the years there are more and more schools who wanted to join this growing tournament, but there is still not a official name for it. People are calling it Christmas Tournament so that is the way everyone recognizes it. The tournament will be played in different function rooms, not sports centres, but function rooms in hall centres and theatres covered with carpeting.
At the end of the 50’s, the organisation invited some volleyball teams from different parts of The Netherlands. Expansion went well but wasn’t going fast because of the disadvantages of housing. Every team that participated was placed with a host family. In 1959 there were to much players to host and to little host families that there were players housed in a gym, this was really necessarily.
For years the finals were played on a carpet in the Bellevue Theatre, but after all those years also this function room became to small for our tournament. There was not enough space to host al the public, there was no possibility to toss the ball high in the air during service because of the balcony above and even during the play the ball must not go too high because of the racks for protection of theatre lamps and chandeliers above the play-field.
The first foreign teams joined in 1961 and 1962, the teams from Belgium and Germany turned this national tournament in a tournament of international level.
The communication and collecting the results of all the games played in different halls happened by bike, students en pupils fulfil this job. In this way they could make an important contribution to the Christmas Tournament.
Butt still after all those years there is not yet a sport hall, the question to get one was answered in 1969. In December of that year the tournament will be played in sport hall The Timp, this location is still used till today as the location where the finals will be played. In 1980, the games will also be played in the Spreng, by using two sports halls is there one problem for the transportation of players, referees and volunteers. The answer was found in vans who created shuttle service between these two locations. After all those years there driving five shuttles trough Assen to get all the players right on time on one of the five different sports centres
That there is changed a lot during the years may be clear. However, the Christmas Volleyball Tournament has been on the same pillars: the games, the contact between participants and the stay of volleyball players in Assen. After all those years is it still a feast for the organisation to get so much people to our tournament, to see so much beautiful competitions and to experience a wonderful atmosphere. On to the next 65 years!