1947: The beginning
The very beginning of Riga Volleyball Club goes back to 1947, when thousands of Latvian exiles arrived in Britain seeking work. The club was established in Birdingbury hostel, near Rugby in the autumn of 1947. The club started to play in the spring of 1948, as at that time it was only an outdoor sport.
The old club name was “Auseklis’ meaning “morning star”. ‘They had great success playing other teams of exiles around the country. In 1950 the team split up because of the closing of the hostel and people finding work elsewhere and leaving the area. Most of the remaining players joined up with an existing team in Coventry and formed K.S.K. The peak of K.S.K.’s achievement was reached in 1952 when they were uncrowned champions of England beating every team in the country, including Pogon ladies and men. At that time Pogon was the reigning team in England. Unfortunately the following year the team disintegrated because four men and three ladies emigrated to Canada, so it had to be rebuilt.
Encouraging young people to take on the sport of volleyball
As by now the age of the team was creeping up the team policy of development had to change. In 1963 K.S.K split up and five of the players attached themselves to the Latvian Welfare Fund (D.V.F.) at Wolston, where they established outdoor facilities and started to encourage young men and women to join the game.
“Riga” is born
By the late 1960’s volleyball had grown sufficiently to enable a National League to be formed to which D.V.F. had aspirations of joining. In 1970 at the clubs AGM it was decided that a change of club name would be beneficial.
The name Riga was suggested and accepted in honour of the old Latvians who had kept the club going for nearly two decades. The club was encouraging an influx of local players as the old Latvian stalwarts began to retire one by one.
Promotion in NVL
In 1972 Riga won the first Sandwell tournament which, at that time, was the largest tournament in Europe if not the world. The following year Riga won the Merseyside INVO Tournament and joined the Midlands Division of the National League, with its reputation for good organisation and friendliness. In 1976 the club development was justly rewarded by promotion to League Division Two, as Midlands Division winners.
Permanent league promotion
After only two years, the ultimate goal was achieved – promotion to Division One. This was, however, short-lived and from 1979 to 1991, except for the seasons 1986/87 and 1988/89 the club was in Division Two, At the end of the 1990/91 season the club was again promoted to Division One, but this time could only manage a single win. Eventually a permanent promotion was achieved in the mid 1990s with the club only being relegated once to division Two for the 1997/98 season. Riga bounced straight back as Division Two champions and are now an established first division side.
The 2000s have seen continued progress and the men’s team can rightly claim to be one of the top few teams in the country and in 2004 were runners-up in Division 1 (missing out on the championship on sets difference) and reached the KO Cup Final for the first time.
The Ladies 1st team won Division 2 and played in in National League Division 1 from the season 2004-2005. Recently years we’ve downsized the number of teams in order to consolidate and focus. The men’s team continued in the top flight of English volleyball in the new Super 8s structure and the ladies team is in Division 2. In 2013 the Club expanded and entered a women’s team into West Midlands regional league.
Timeline Heading 8
Much has been learned from our experiences during these years and respect has been gained from teams in this country and abroad. The club regularly takes part in tournaments in Germany, Holland and Belgium and has collected an impressive display of trophies (many of which are on display at the Latvia museum following the closure of Musmajas, in Wolston). The desire for progress continues to be reflected in the club activities and by its involvement in all aspects of volleyball in the area and nationally. It has accepted certain responsibilities in helping to develop volleyball in the area and it is with delight that we see children and youths being involved in volleyball, supported by the club and with individual members taking an active part in it.
These days, our club is well-known as one of the oldest, friendliest and biggest clubs in Warwickshire. We boast excellent links with the rest of the clubs in West Midlands, as well as connections with the University of Warwick where juniors can learn to play volleyball.
The men’s team has been promoted to Division 2, the first women’s team is aiming to be promoted to Division 1, and our second women’s team has joined Division 3, after winning the West Midlands Volleyball League in 2018.