The history of ParaVolley in Europe

To better understand how the ParaVolley Europe organisation came to be, it is important to set the scene and go back to the start of Paralympic movement in order to get a full picture.

1948 –  The Stoke Mandeville Games, first competition organised for wheelchair athletes by Sir Ludwig Guttmann.

1960 – First official Paralympic Games held in Rome (ITA).

1964 – The International Sports Organisation for the Disabled (ISOD) is founded recognising the need for many more people with visual impairments, amputations, cerebral palsy and other disabilities who want to compete in sports.

1980 – Sitting Volleyball officially joins the Paralympic programme at the Game sin Arnhem (NED).

1981 – On 24th April 1981, a meeting is called by the Team leaders of Sitting Volleyball to create an international Committee for Volleyball within ISOD with the following members elected by the Nations:

  • Chair: P. Joon (NED),
  • Secretary: K. Aga (NOR),
  • Member: H. Haep (GER),
  • Coaches Officer: A. ‘t Hart (NED),
  • Referees Officer: I. Barlund (SWE).

The first official European Championship for Sitting Volleyball is organised in Bonn (GER) with the participation of 10 Nations between 23rd and 25th April 1981.

Photo 1 – Pieter Joon (NED) on the right with Harald Natvig (NOR) ISOD classifier 

1984 – The Volleyball Section chaired by Pieter Joon opens 2 extra seats on the Board to represent the Europe and America Zones.  Sverre Bergenholdt (NOR) is elected for Europe and William Teaque (USA) for America.  Sverre Bergenholdt holds his position on the VBS Board until 1992.

1988 –  At an ISOD Volleyball meeting in Korea chaired by Pieter Joon, four people are elected to represent the zones on the Board of the Volleyball Section (VBS) as follows:

  • Europe: Mr S. Bergenholdt (NOR) re-elected,
  • Asia: Mr J.C. Lee (KOR),
  • America’s : Miss J. Carroll (USA),
  • Middle East: Dr. T. Dhari (IRQ),
  • Africa: vacancy

1992 – That year in Barcelona during the Volleyball meeting chaired by Pieter Joon, the nations decide that the VBS should turn into an independent International Organisation called World Organisation for Volleyball for Disabled or WOVD which will be established in 1994.  Sverre Bergenholdt (NOR) resigns from his position and hands his seat to Pierre Van Meenen (FRA).

1993 – During the European Championships which takes place in Järvenpää, Finland from 7th to 12th June 1993, elections are organised at the General Assembly for a new and formal European Committee for Volleyball for Disabled (ECVD) to be established as an official zone of WOVD.

  • Chair: Pierre van Meenen (FRA) ,
  • Secretary: Marie Therese Scholtens (NED) ,
  • Development Officer: Jouke de Haan (NED),
  • Technical Officer: Eugene Savelkoul (NED)
  • Member: Sylvia Romero (ESP).
Photo 2 – Members ECVD – Marie Therese Scholtens (NED) / Pierre van Meenen (FRA)/Eugene Savelkoul (NED)/ Silvia Romero Rachid (ESP)/Jouke de Haan (NED)

The elected European Committee will be acknowledged as the first formal ECVD Board under the new Constitution of WOVD later in 1994.

1998 – Gene Savelkoul is elected as interim President in an extraordinary GA on 12th September 1999.

2001 – Pierre Van Meenen is re-elected President in 2001.

2006 – ToraIv Thorkildsen (NOR) is acting President from 2006 and then is re-elected in 2007 until 2017.

2017 – He is succeeded by current President Branko Mihorko (SLO).

Photo 3 – Current PVE Board – from left to right G.Pasciari (ITA), U. Dzalba (LAT), B. Mihorko (SLO), I. Collot (FRA), P. Harmsen (NED), I. Pavic (CRO) – missing: Z. Hranić (CRO)

2019 – A new board is elected under the Presidency of Branko Mihorko (SLO) with the following board members:

  • Guido PASCIARI (ITA) is appointed Marketing Director
  • Una DZALBA (LAT) is appointed Development Director
  • Paul HARMSEN (NED) is appointed Vice President
  • Ivana PAVIC (CRO) is appointed Secretary General
  • Zdravko HRANIC (CRO) is appointed Sports Director
  • Isabelle COLLOT (FRA) is appointed Communication Director

2021 – Following the resignation of Una DZALBA, the position of Development Director becomes vacant After many years as a player, referee and PVE board member, Ivana PAVIC also resigns.  Following increases in competitions, the role of Secretary General is made redundant and two new “office” positions are created: Legal & Project Manager role filled in by Tanja GASIC MARKOVIC and General Manager role filled in by Nello CALLEJA.

An additional role position is created, that of Medical Director and the treasurer Benno MEIJER is now involved in Board meetings without voting rights.

  • Adam MALIK (POL) is appointed Development Director 
  • Axel RUETZ (GER) is appointed Medical Director
2021 PVE Board – from left to right: A. Ruetz, A. Malik, B. Mihorko, G.Pasciari, I. Collot, Z. Hranic (missing from photo: P. Harmsen)

2023 – Following the resignation of Paul HARMSEN after many years of involvement in the ParaVolley movement, the Vice President position becomes vacant

  • Guido PASCIARI (ITA) is appointed Vice President
  • Onur HOSNUT (TUR) is appointed Marketing Director
The 2023 PVE Board & Office – from left to right: N. Calleja, A. Malik, O. Hosnut, Z. Hranic, B. Mihorko, I.Collot, P. Harmsen, A. Ruetz, B. Meijer, T. Gasic Markovic, V. Georgieva