Clanfield coach helps Georgia to Games semis

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Josh Green in action for England under-17s at the NEVZA Championshi. Picture: Hamistolen Photography

Green buoyant after his first international abroad

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Richard Osborne was catapulted into the Invictus Games limelight last week by a team from Georgia.

The Clanfield coach steered the national side to a bronze-medal clash against the Netherlands – in the sporting event for wounded, injured and sick service men and women.

Osborne was asked by Volleyball England to go along and give some hints and tips to a number of eager teams wanting to learn more about the sport.

Through this he got to work with the seven delegates from Georgia, each with their own harrowing war story.

He said: ‘I spent two hours with them teaching the basic rules and at the end they wanted to adopt me as their coach.

‘Technically they weren’t brilliant, one or two players were quite competent but I would say that their knowledge wasn’t particularly good.’

After only forming two months before the games, the Georgia team were relying on YouTube clips to find out what to do before they were blessed with Osborne’s expertise.

He was given the coaching opportunity after helping the Great Britain forces team in the run up to their selection.

Osborne said: ‘I work for the Ministry of Defence with the Royal Navy, so I have a number of contacts to be able to go and help the GB team train if they need it.’

And then came the opportunity to train the coachless Georgia team for the games.

‘I didn’t have the chance to do any other training with the squad, except for the two-hour initial session,’ said the coach.

‘Then the next day was the beginning of the competition at the Copper Box!’

Georgia beat Germany and Denmark in the preliminary stages of the competition.

They then progressed to face Great Britain in the semi-final.

Unfortunately, the squad were beaten 2-0 by the talented hosts.

Georgia then went head-to-head with the Netherlands for the bronze medal but after a close match the team lost by the same scoreline.

Coming from coaching Portsmouth, Osborne said: ‘I was catapulted into a really amazing environment with huge crowds and lots of cheers.

‘It was surreal and I’m still trying to come to terms with it now!’

The 47-year-old coach has had a connection with volleyball since he was a teenager but didn’t get into training the sitting form of the sport until much later.

‘I got into it because my friend, Charlotte Hughes, lost both of her legs after contracting blood poisoning.

‘After a long period of doing nothing, she and others set up the Portsmouth team.

‘I had a go and really enjoyed it, so started training straight after and now I love coaching the team much more.’

The Portsmouth team train every Thursday at the Mary Rose Academy, Southsea (6.30-8.30pm). All ages and abilities are welcome.