The freezone is the playing space around and above a volleyball court. There are also front zones, back zones, substitution zones and service zones along with warm-up areas, team benches and heaven knows what else.

I’m sure there is plenty more to learn from the USA volleyball rule book. After all, it’s 195 pages long and a dedicated reader could get through it in, oh, say, a few days.

Aces are the same as in tennis, spikes are impressive power hits and a block is the defensive play to counter a spike. But enjoying the game as a spectator is easier than tackling the rule book. And a lot of fun.

This is a fast game requiring fitness and skills that can be readily appreciated. A good team will show a coordinated and attentive approach to the play and reflect the training required.

Freezone is also the name of Sydney’s gay and lesbian volleyball club, well established with many teams ranging from beginners to graded players. They have training sessions at the UTS Sydney Boys’ High School gymnasium from 3pm to 6pm every Sunday from February to November.

The players come from far and wide. For example, Jeffrey began playing at high school in Manilla. His family was always interested in the game but Jeffrey didn’t play for seven years while he was studying in California.

In Australia, looking for new friends and activities, he contacted Freezone by email and began playing with the club two years ago.

He says most of his friends and social circle are people he has met at volleyball. Jeffrey plays three days each week in two different teams to ensure his fitness whilst completing his post-graduate degree at Sydney University.

Although our social teams began as teams that wanted to have fun, we have developed into a highly competitive team in B division, winning several finals in the past year, he said.

Another import, Roberto, from Puerto Rico, has been in Australia two years. He has been playing volleyball since he was eight and found Freezone on the internet. He competed at two previous Gay Games, New York and Amsterdam, and believes they have a pretty good chance of winning medals in Chicago.

Roberto says, To play at a competitive level you do have to have fitness training, and his team trains and plays with the straights as well. They look at us and underestimate us and put us down but when we show how well we play we get respect. I think we have more balls than they do to make it happen.

At the Mardi Gras tournament this year there were mixed teams playing. The training sessions, each with their own coaches, are fairly full and some of the girls train elsewhere, but in the lead-up to overseas competition there is a team spirit uniting the teams who will travel this year. The training sessions include competitive games each week.

Competition is important for improving performance. Freezone teams compete in mainstream events like the Good Neighbour Tournament in Canberra, the Sydney Cup and weekly social competitions at Sydney Boys’ High and Broadway.

The Melbourne Spikers hold tournaments during the Midsumma Festival and the Queen’s Birthday weekend in June where Freezone often competes. They like to know the enemy because there will be fierce competition overseas.

Adelaide Spikers Feast Tournament in October attracts 12 or more teams, and features a sensational wineries tour to showcase the best of Adelaide’s attractions to visiting teams from Melbourne and Sydney.

So the setter plays an overhead pass ready for a spike and hopes to avoid a block. Beginners, get yourselves along to Freezone and you will soon learn the jargon. Novice and experienced players will find a friendly and welcoming club.

And mintonette? That’s the original name given by American William Morgan for volleyball when he invented it.

If you’re interested in playing, contact Wally Salinger on 0419 999 494 or wallysalinger@yahoo.com.au.

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