The History of Volleyball SA

The beginnings of volleyball in Australia can be traced back vaguely to the 1920’s and more clearly to the 1930’s.  At that stage, it was not regarded as a competitive sport but rather more on the lines originally intended for it by its American inventor, William G. Morgan, as an entertaining and not over-strenuous recreational activity.  It is evident that volleyball was initially introduced into Australia by World War 1 servicemen who learned the game through contact with their American counterparts in France and the UK.  The game found its way into the armed services, YMCA and kindred organisations, youth clubs, colleges and eventually schools, always as part of a physical education program rather than a competitive sport, attracting little notice or following.

The influx of post war migrants, brought into Australia a large number of people from European countries, particularly Eastern Europe, USSR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the Baltic countries where competitive volleyball was developed and popular before the Second World War.  For people who, after many hardships and privations, found themselves in a foreign, and in many respects, strange land.  The familiar game, along with other sporting and social activities, became a bridge spanning a familiar past, a bewildering present and an unknown but ever brightening future.

Played mostly outdoors in conditions little better than cow paddocks from the early 1950’s, the game slowly  began to regain its hold on enthusiasts and attract a sprinkling of native born Australians.  The prospect for future development was not very inspiring as Australia in those days was virtually devoid of indoor sporting facilities and volleyball is not really an outdoor sport.  However, progress continued and by the mid 1950’s organised associations were controlling competitions in Sydney and Adelaide, followed soon after by Melbourne.  By the late 1950’s there was a certain amount of communication among the three centres, although travelling difficulties precluded actual meeting.


Walter Lebedew OAM, a life member of Volleyball South Australia and an exceptional figure in Volleyball South Australia, has put together a history of Volleyball In South Australia that can be read here.