Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Leave a Ball Behind Aids Volleyball Growth

As the famous movie line from Field of Dreams goes, “If you build it, they will come.” This rings true for the Henry Kalungi Foundation, which partnered with the Uganda Volleyball Federation and other local high school and club teams to rebuild an outdoor volleyball court at Kibuli High School. The aim was to create a space for future games to be played.

However, in order to play the game, they needed volleyballs for team practice. This is where USA Volleyball’s Leave a Ball Behind program stepped in. They generously donated 30 volleyballs to the Kalungi Foundation, providing Kibuli High School with the opportunity to host volleyball camps and actively participate in the sport.

The Leave a Ball Behind program started 25 years ago when John Kessel, USA Volleyball Director of Sport Development, witnessed firsthand the challenges faced in developing the game globally. Despite the growing interest in the sport, the lack of volleyballs hindered its growth. Inspired by a handmade ball made from banana leaves, Kessel initiated the Leave a Ball Behind concept in 1995 as a give-back project to celebrate volleyball’s centennial.

The concept is simple: clubs and individuals donate their used volleyballs at the end of their seasons. These volleyballs, still in good condition, are then repurposed and given to programs around the world that are less fortunate. Over the years, USA Volleyball has collected thousands of these volleyballs, spreading the game to children worldwide and underserved areas in the United States.

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USA Volleyball encourages clubs and regions to gather unclaimed volleyballs at tournaments. At national or regional championships, players are asked to sign their favorite quotes and provide good luck wishes on the balls with a sharpie pen. Once everyone has contributed, the balls are flattened and shipped to their local Leave a Ball Behind program.

To contribute to this cause, clubs and individuals can also ship their donations directly to USA Volleyball. The Leave a Ball Behind program is a valuable resource for clubs to pass on gently used volleyballs that are being replaced with new ones.

Jacqueline Kalungi, President and Co-founder of the Henry Kalungi Foundation and a former volleyball player at Winthrop University, used her expertise in volleyball to empower young ladies during a day-long volleyball camp at Kibuli High School. Through this camp and by rebuilding volleyball courts, the foundation hopes to continue supporting the volleyball community in Uganda.


Q: How can I participate in the Leave a Ball Behind Program?
A: To participate, clubs and individuals can donate their used volleyballs at the end of their seasons. These donated volleyballs will be repurposed and given to programs in need around the world.

Q: Can I contribute to the Leave a Ball Behind program by shipping my donations?
A: Yes, you can contribute to the program by shipping your gently used volleyballs to USA Volleyball at 4065 Sinton Road, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80907. This is a great option for clubs that are replacing their old volleyballs with new ones.

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In conclusion, the Leave a Ball Behind program by USA Volleyball has been instrumental in spreading the game of volleyball worldwide. By repurposing used volleyballs and donating them to programs in need, the program has provided opportunities for underserved areas to engage in the sport. With the help of the Henry Kalungi Foundation and other partners, Kibuli High School in Uganda was able to host volleyball camps and contribute to the growth of volleyball within their community. To get involved, individuals and clubs can donate their used volleyballs or ship them to USA Volleyball. Let’s join hands and continue to leave a ball behind, making a positive impact on the game and the lives of aspiring athletes.