Volleyball is not the most popular sport in England and like any other non popular discipline, it has big challenges outside of the
playing arena. Meet Daniel Primus, whose passion to volleyball is not stopping him from doing what he loves.
Daniel Primus started to be involved
in sports by playing basketball at school, because volleyball “was not played” when he was 14.
The advertisement did not include volleyball in it and it was not popular between young people, but suddenly a volleyball coach came to him and encouraged him to try a different sport – volleyball.
Now Primus, is a 40 years old volleyball coach of one of the best volleyball teams in London – England Super 8s. It started as an after-school activity but later Primus played for a local team and a national junior team after that. “I spent all my time playing volleyball and not studying, that was an issue.” – he said. Volleyball was just starting to be practiced in London and Daniel Primus was offered to study and play volleyball with other talented volleyball players in Sheffield, although he rejected the proposal because “guys in my age range were all bigger and better” – he thought, “there is no way.”
Instead of going, he decided to focus on his career. After a while, he joined a Division 2 team and stayed there for 20 years, including playing and coaching this team. Everything changed at the age of 24, when he got injured. Then a coincidence happened. One of the top 3 best coaches in the world said to him – “Look, if you got injured, there is no point sitting at home, so why don’t you come and help me?.”
Nevertheless, it is quite hard to be a volleyball player or coach in England as volleyball is not supported by the government or any other institutions. “We went through a hard time, there were a lot of promises and it is still something I am really annoyed about.” After London 2012 Olympics the financing was cut, and the national team got dispensed. “Honestly, if we have to say, have we moved forward? I think we have gone backwards, I really do.”, – he says. The other thing that affected people involved in volleyball is the “international transfers”. ‘“Well, we are an amateur group, you have to pay to play here.” Now, people from other countries that play non professional volleyball need to apply to their country’s federation and can be charged even a thousand Euros. Moreover, you still need to pay here again. “‘We have players that are unable to play because their federation said they want money. You have people trying to earn for living in London, which is really difficult to do, and they have families and kids, other expenses, but are really good at volleyball, we still need to say, sorry you have to pay.” Many players are just going to play for a local team instead of one of the Super 8s. After the Olympics, according to Primus – “Very few of the national team are playing now, after what happened. If they are playing, they are playing abroad. How is that helping volleyball and those players here? It simply does not.” Many talented volleyball players are not involved in volleyball anymore. Simply, “volleyball pays nothing here”, – he says.
Daniel Primus believes that England is doing enough to encourage people to play volleyball just at junior level. For women netball has much more potential. “People used to think, that we do not have the profile of volleyball players here, but we do, they all play netball or other things.” Their advertisement is much stronger, you cannot compete with that. Basically, “other sports are doing things better, one of the problems is that we try to reinvent the wheel – we just need to copy what other people are doing.” He emphasises – ‘‘If you have the bug – you have the bug, it is there, you just need the right people to pump it at the right time.”
Surprisingly, a person, who is involved in volleyball for many years, after being asked about his favourite sports player, he picked Michael Jordan. A professional basketball player. Yesterday he spent an hour looking at highlights of Michael Jordan. “Every time you see it, you think, how he does that? I have seen him loosing games, I have seen him missing shots, but I have seen other moments as well. There will never be anyone like him.”
After all, Daniel Primus loves what he does, even if it costs him a lot of personal money and time away from his family and a newborn baby. He is one of the people who is dedicated to his work.