After an intensive 3 day Senior Training Camp in December 2021 Rushcliffe teenager Thomas Graham-Jones, age 19, from Tollerton was called up to the full England Volleyball Squad for his 1st International appearance. This call up put to rest the disappointment he experienced when he was selected to play in the U19’s World Cup in Pordenonne in Italy in 2020 which was cancelled due to the pandemic.
“I was really pleased to be selected to represent my country at Junior level last year, had my bags all packed, hotels and flights booked to Venice and had my plane tickets in my hand when the Italian organisers were forced to cancel the event at the height of the pandemic. I decided to put this disappointment aside as I knew that people were dying from coronavirus and that sometimes there are more important things in life than sport”
Undeterred, Thomas turned to training even harder over the rest of 2020 and, when volleyball restarted in September 2021, he was fitter, stronger and more mentally prepared. This extra work led to him playing for and starting for Sheffield Hallam Volleyball Club in the Men’s Super League (the highest league in the UK) in every match in 2021 and led to his invite to his first Senior Men’s Training Camp between Christmas and New Year. He performed well at the camp and made his debut for England behind closed doors at The Sir Stanley Matthews Sports Center at Staffordshire University on Thursday 30th December 2021 against a very strong Scottish Squad.
“I was pleased to be invited to my 1st Senior Men’s Training Camp but to then be selected to play for my country made me immensely proud. My Mum is English and my Dad is Scottish and I know that they too were proud of my achievement …but being Scottish my Dad was also a ‘little’ disappointed in the result! I started in the match and we were faced with a strong Scottish Squad full of players who had played professionally abroad and to run out 3 sets to 1 winners was a great start to my international career”
As volleyball is an unfunded sport here in England Thomas and his family have to pay for all of the costs of playing volleyball. He is currently supported financially by The Tollerton Community Trust, Rushcliffe Borough Council and the Performance Athlete’s Support Programme at Sheffield Hallam University. However, if there are any local businesses that can help fund his playing career then please get in touch by emailing the Rushcliffe Local News on [email protected]