When The Times newspaper coined the phrase Bellodrome in Saturday’s coverage of the Commonwealth Games, we knew that the Bello twins Javier and Joaquin had resonated with the public.
Beach volleyball rarely registers on the sports agenda in the UK, but in Birmingham, the crowds were immersed into a carnival style atmosphere with some of the most exuberant performances of the entire Games. Just like at London ten years ago, there was a genuine buzz around the sport – with Team England firmly in the mix.
Pre-Games talk of medal contention was more than just localised hype – Javier and Joaquin rose to the challenge to fulfil their pre-tournament objective to win Team England its first-ever beach volleyball medal – and they did so in stunning style. With their supportive family cheering on from the crowd, the Bellos made Costa del Brum their own.
Those of us who watched the beach volleyball over the Commonwealth fortnight witnessed true athleticism, thrilling action and some impressive displays of might, skill, and passion. It contained all the ingredients you want from a sporting fixture, and the most important of those: entertainment. The Brum Beach Crew and the Freddie Mercury-channelling rakemen ensured audiences were rapt even in between games.
So why don’t we see more of it outside of the Games? It’s clearly a sport waiting to, well, rake free. And what can we do to ensure the Bellos’ achievements – and indeed the efforts of their team-mates Jess Grimson and Daisy Mumby – continue to stir up excitement and column inches long after the Commonwealth Closing Ceremony?
The Bellos’ success was far from overnight. Both Javier and Joaquin trained incredibly hard to win their bronze medal. Their passion and dedication to the sport is infectious. The broader support network from the family – dad Luis is their coach, mum Barbara their co-ordinator, younger brother Enrique is also a volleyballer himself – enables them to compete at the highest level.
At the same time, both lads have been through university. Javier graduated in philosophy, politics, and economics, while Joaquin is a medical student. Combining education with professional sport requires commitment that you can’t buy, and it also takes its toll on the finances. The Bellos have made it to this level largely unfunded. As they turn their attention to the OIympic Games in Paris 2024, they will need commercial support – and the Commonwealths should be the ideal springboard for them.
Volleyball as a sport, just like all those others who attract fervent support during a Games period, will be asking themselves the same question. How can we ride this wave? How can we recreate the magical feeling from Birmingham month-in, month-out? How can we attract more sponsorship? More funding? More coverage? More participants? They are all questions that fall under the term ‘legacy’ – and that nut has proven a tough one to crack over the years.
The challenge is one that can be overcome to a large extent through sponsorship, but it needs to be the right partnership to flourish. For a visionary brand, it is a unique opportunity to step up and to help an under-served sport to grow. Brands looking for wholesome family appeal, proven talent, globally marketable athletes, educated ambassadors and star power need look no further than Javier and Joaquin Bello.
Step inside the Bellodrome, where dreams come true. To learn more about Javier and Joaquin, or to explore partnership opportunities, please drop us a line (rakes optional).
Photo courtesy of Steve Smith