In 1983 David Munro, recently appointed as a head teacher in a Perth school, took part in the Roeselare volleyball tournament in Belgium. A newcomer to the sport he was mightily impressed by the event, by the numbers attending and the carnival atmosphere.
So much so that two years later he was making a hurried trip to Birmingham with a car and trailer to borrow enough nets and poles to stage his very first volleyball tournament in Scotland. Thirty eight teams competed in that first event and many expressed the view that they were keen to repeat the experience.
The passing of time has seen the event become fixed in volleyballers’ calendars with familiar faces reappearing each year. Notable participants over the years have been some of the National squads representing Great Britain at student and disabled level, the Scottish Ladies and English student teams.
Overseas teams such as America, Russia and Czechoslovakia have competed at the top level and others who have taken part include Belgians, Germans, both Irish, French and Dutch, including a regular attendance for many years from the Faroese, enjoying an event where the number of competitors almost equals a third of their total population.
Only twice in its history has the event been halted due to rain. Once due to an extremely heavy cloudburst in 1999 which unfortunately coincided with the evacuation of the sports centre due to a false fire alarm – caused by steaming hot bodies apparently.
The other was in 1993 when the tournament was completely cancelled due to serious spring flooding in many parts of Scotland. Bells Sports Centre was badly damaged along with many homes locally and throughout the country. There were no replacement venues available that could maintain the unique facilities that the tournament offered.
Besides volleyball the tournament had become renowned for its friendliness with a Friday Ceilidh and a Saturday Disco. The growing popularity of these events drove them to bigger and bigger premises, now being held in Dewar’s Ice Rink in Glover Street a short walking distance from the Volleyball courts.
Now in the 21st Century, the Scottish Open Volleyball Tournament is still going strong with up to 175 teams accounting for some 1,500 competitors not counting camp followers and friends. David Munro is still as heavily involved as in 1983 and remains a fit and keen player.
David Munro was honoured in ‘Valuing volunteers: service to sports awards 2000’ given to 10 Scots who gave up their free time to help and train others.