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Green cards get green light for Island high school volleyball season

Fair play initiative begins this week
Vancouver Island Referee chair Mark Lindal uses a ‘Green Card’ for Fair Play during the girls high school volleyball season opening ­tournament on Tuesday at Pacific Christian School. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Anytime a referee reaches in his pocket for a card is never a good thing for an offending player or team. But a revolutionary concept in one sport is turning that on its head.

Vancouver Island high school volleyball will become the first sports jurisdiction in Canada to hand out cards for positive behaviour. It will be a green card and given to any team that admits an uncalled or close-call infraction against itself to the referee, such as hitting the ball out or touching the net.

The Green Card for Fair Play initiative was pioneered this season in the Volleyball Nations League, where national teams play each other, with the team with the most green cards at the end of the year earning $30,000 US.

“It’s a positive change all sports can really benefit from,” said Mark Lindal, Vancouver Island Volleyball Referee chair.

“We saw in the Nations League where the philosophy was: ‘We’re going to catch you, regardless, on video review, so why don’t you just admit to it?’ It reinforces fair play.”

And saves a lot of time, and keeps game flow going, by not having to go to video reviews and the interruptions they cause in matches.

But even though several ­players have come out of Island high schools to play ­volleyball for Canada in the Nations League and Olympics, school volleyball operates well below the level of video reviews or $30,000 in prize money. About all the Island’s green card champion school teams will get is a sense of satisfaction. There is talk, however, of a green card trophy awarded in future Island high school and junior high seasons once this pilot season is evaluated. Other volleyball leagues across Canada are watching the initiative to see how it plays out this season on the Island.

Lindal said it also give the referees a bit of a break.

“The referees are always the bad guys because it’s our job to pick out faults,” said the veteran official.

“This is an opportunity to reward good behaviour.”

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