Monique Matthews, 32, wants sitting volleyball to become a household name. Matthews has been playing the sport since 2010 and had no volleyball experience before that. It took her a little over a year to pick up the skills and become a valuable member of her team.
Besides acquiring the standard volleyball skills, Matthews learned how to move using her arms and legs while playing the ball owing to her left-sided ankle amputation. Despite the team’s effort in sitting volleyball, Matthews believes that the sport doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Hence, she aims to obtain more attention for the sport and make the world appreciate the hard work, training, and dedication it requires.
Speaking to USA TODAY Sports, Matthews explains that she wishes people would try the sport to understand how much harder it is than standing. She adds, “I wish they would just try it, and they would realize that you cannot be lazy at all.”
The history of sitting Volleyball dates as far back as 1943, but it wasn’t until 1956 that the Dutch sports committee introduced sitting football globally. This sport is a combination of volleyball and a German game, Sitzball, where the players are seated, but there is no net.
The first international competition took place in 1967, and the Men’s volleyball team made its debut at the 1980 Paralympic Games. The Women’s sitting volleyball game was first played in 2004 in Athens, where China won the gold medal.
The US women sitting volleyball team are the reigning gold medalists after their Saturday face-off with Rwanda. They began with an early win, 3-0 against Rwanda, while the US men’s team did not qualify.
Matthews, who participated in two previous Olympic games, says, “It is important to get good matchups against them with our players – but I think we did well.” Through her quest to bring attention to the sport, Matthews trusts that the team will grow and win more matches at the Paralympic games.
“It has been a good blend of veteran and new players to see how they play differently. And then, they can see how we play the little ins and outs of the sitting game,” Matthews concluded.