The Weekly would like to welcome Elizabeth Holbrook back to Jeju and the paper after her travels. You can read an interview she gave in March, 2010 — Ed.
No stranger to events on the island, the Jeju Furey Foundation held its first ever Female Beach Volleyball Clinic and its third annual Swing Beach Volleyball Classic tournament at Iho Tewoo Beach, Jeju City, from July 18 to 22.
Professional beach volleyball player from Seoul, Han Ji-yeon, led the women’s clinic and played in Sunday’s one-day tournament.
The idea of a female clinic originated when founder of the Jeju Furey Foundation, Daniel Nabben, saw the need for women on the island, especially Korean females, to feel more confident playing the sport. After consistently hearing similar stories of women wanting to participate in the BVB tournaments but holding back from joining because they felt like they weren’t good enough to play, he decided to take action.
“Every tournament we get far more teams who are missing one or two girls than who are missing guys,” he said. “We need more girls to make more teams for the tournament to grow and raise more money. To get more girls, you need to make it comfortable for them to play. And teaching them how to play is probably the best way to do that,” said Nabben.
▲ Former pro volleyball athlete Han Ji-yeon
Nabben reached out to pro beach volleyball player, Han Ji-yeon, last May inviting her to play in the Furey BVB 7 tournament. Although Han was unable to attend in the spring, she was interested in the Jeju Furey and decided to come to the island for the swing tournament in July. Nabben saw her visit as the perfect opportunity to finally hold a female clinic, and Han agreed to help out.
Despite Jeju’s unpredictable weather, including tropical storm Khanun, approximately 40 women attended the clinic throughout the week. Sessions were held for Korean women Wednesday through Saturday from 5-7:30 p.m., and an additional clinic created for female expats took place Saturday morning from 10-11:30 a.m. Essential techniques like passing, digging, setting, and serving were taught in both clinics, followed by a game, enabling the women to put their newly learned skills to use.
“The clinic was fantastic,” said attendee Sarah Brodie. “Ji-yeon had a great attitude and she really wanted us to learn. If we weren’t getting something quite right she wouldn’t move on until we got it.”
The intimacy of the clinic also helped many women improve their game and self-assurance.
“It was personal. Ji-yeon would tell me what I was doing correctly and what I was doing wrong so I could fix it and become better,” said Yang Mi Kyung.
For some women, like Kim Jung A, the gender exclusiveness of the event provided an appealing setting to learn.
“Men can be really competitive and sometimes intimidating to play around. I really liked that it was only for women,” she said.
Han, impressed with how hard the women were working, would often go over the clinics’ allotted time, staying an extra two hours on Thursday night and an extra hour and a half on Friday night.
“I didn’t want to stop,” she said. “The women were having so much fun.”
Many participants in the clinic also participated in the Swing Beach Volleyball Classic 3 tournament on Sunday, which was open to both men and women.
“One of the coolest things about the day was that many of the women who attended the clinic came up to me throughout the tournament and told me they had applied what they learned,” said Han. “They’d tell me, ‘I did this or I did that like you showed me, and it worked.’ It was so nice to hear.”
Another aspect of the tournament that Han enjoyed was that people from all skill levels could come together in high spirits, cheer for each other ,and have a good time.
“Pros never do that; they never encourage each other,” she said before playing in the championship game for A bracket team “Super Monkey Frog Power.”
The tournament was created two years ago when members of Jeju’s swing dance club, Swing Island, who were also regular participants in Furey’s May and October tournaments, requested an additional day of beach volleyball.
“The members from Swing Island literally couldn’t get enough volleyball,” said Nabben. “They were enjoying the Furey tournaments so much and wanted to play more.”
This year’s swing tournament was met with intense summer heat as 19 teams battled the sun and each other for the title of champion. In a repeat of the May BVB 7 tournament, “Super Monkey Frog Power” beat out “9 Inch Spikes” taking home first in Division A. “Sangre Sudor y Lágrimas” took the title for Division B, and “Turtle Power” brought home the win for Division C.
It was a bittersweet end to the week’s events as Nabben helped win the last point for the A championship with his nonreturnable smash, closing out an era for both volleyball and the Jeju Furey Foundation. The swing tournament is the last Furey volleyball event he will be a part of before returning to Canada in August to attend graduate school.
Yet having Han participate in last week’s events has him heading out on a high note. “I can leave and say I’ve checked all the boxes,” he said, with hopes she’ll take her experience back to the mainland furthering Jeju Furey’s exposure.
Passing on the baton of responsibilities when he leaves, he says his wish for the foundation is that it only keeps up the current momentum.
“I hope it doesn’t miss a beat. It’s only continuing to grow and I hope the people who take over just keep it going,” he said.
For more information about the Jeju Furey Foundation and its upcoming events visit: jejufurey.weebly.com.
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