Home » Getting to know: history maker Ciara Michel

Getting to know: history maker Ciara Michel

by WoV
source: cev.lu; Photo: cev.lu

Ciara Michel, 28, is a 2012 Olympian for Team GB who this past May was selected by Italy’s Unendo Yamamay BUSTO ARSIZIO to play for the bronze medalists of the 2013 CEV Volleyball Champions League in the coming season. The middle-blocker who left the UK at the tender age of 10 to move to Florida is likely to turn into the first female Volleyball player from Great Britain to play in Europe’s elite club competition come October and the first round of the prelims.



Ciara tells us more about her expectations, personal background, sharing memories from a still unforgettable Olympic experience at London 2012.     

Ciara, you are the very first female Volleyball player with British passport who is set to participate in the CEV Volleyball Champions League. What does this opportunity mean to you? 

It is humbling to think there is some historical significance associated with me reaching the next step in my career. I couldn’t sleep for days after signing my contract with Yamamay in May, and even now that I am here, and the reality of sore legs and early mornings has set in, I still pinch myself occasionally, or find myself smiling for no apparent reason. And it’s so exciting to see fans waving the Union Jack when they see me! I have a lot of work to do, to get my game up, so that if I do get the chance to play in those CEV games, I hope to make all of Team GB proud.  

You have travelled the world moving to Florida by the time you were only 10 and you played also in Australia and Germany before coming to Italy. Which are the pros and cons you take from all these experiences and from that – so to speak – “gipsy life”? 

Moving to the USA at age ten was, for my Volleyball experience, the best thing that could have happened. Even though I didn’t pick up the sport until 14, if my family had stayed in the UK, the probability is that I never would have! The biggest con of traveling after my university years, was putting Volleyball secondary to school, which meant losing several years of pro experience. However, I wouldn’t trade the friends and experiences I had during those years, and consider myself lucky to have had the best of both worlds.   


Ciara Michel


Last year you were an Olympian for Team GB in London. Which memories do you still keep from the Olympic tournament? 

A thousand different thoughts spring to my mind when I hear the words ‘Olympics’ or ‘Team GB’. It’s bitter sweet to feel the emotions and excitement of the games rushing back, giving me butterflies, combined with the sadness that now they are just fading memories. I remember before the first match, we drove past a pub outside Earls Court and all of our friends and families had gathered outside to cheer us as we drove past, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years: including my sister and parents! I remember getting goose bumps lined up next to Russia, walking out of the tunnel for the first time and spotting my parents immediately in a crowd of thousands, jumping up and down and going crazy for me. I remember spending free time in the village with my roommate and teammates, meeting athletes from other sports and countries, and how strange it was that it started to feel like normal life, living in a bubble surrounded by sports celebrities. One of the best things about a home Olympics was that it brought my family and friends together from all over the world (my sister came from Ecuador, friends from the US and Australia, as well as all the British locals). I’m not the type to get a tattoo, but I have photos and mementos around my apartment to remind me of that and other important times in my life, and put a smile on my face. 

One year after the Olympics, do you think there is any legacy for Volleyball in the UK? 

Despite all of the hard work from a lot of people behind the scenes for Volleyball in the UK, the decision from UK Sport to stop funding the teams was heart-breaking, and crippling for the sport. Without a system in place, or a senior team to look up to, kids won’t start playing and the fledgling sport will never have a chance against longstanding powerhouses of other nations.  

Which are the goals you have set for the coming season? Do you feel good in Busto Arsizio? Does Italy still represent the dream of any professional Volleyball player though much more lucrative professional leagues have been set up in countries such as Turkey and Azerbaijan? 

I think I’m really lucky to have been selected by this team. After only a week, it seems that Yamamay is a great fit for me. The team has a very ‘professional yet relaxed’ feeling. Despite the high level and the unbelievable love from the fans, there are no egos too big, and the coaches, players and managers alike are encouraging and friendly. This is a good environment to learn and improve, and my goal first and foremost is to impress the coaches so that I get a shot on the court. I can only speak for myself, but money isn’t the only part of the equation when looking for a new team, and so far Italy, and Unendo Yamamay have far exceeded my expectations!



Are you following the EuroVolley in Germany and Switzerland? Are you planning any visit to the matches in Zurich or in Germany? 

I am following to see the progress of some of my former and future teammates, and it is always fun to watch high level Volleyball, men’s and women’s! If I could make it to a game I would love to, but of course our free time is limited, and my priority at the moment is improving my own skills and getting to know my new team.

Finally, to quote the slogan of London 2012, “Inspire a generation”, if you had the chance to talk to a young boy or girl there in the UK, how would you motivate and inspire these kids to take up Volleyball? 

If you can make a career out of what you love, you will never work a day in your life. Once you figure out what it is that makes you happy, go for it and be the best you can. And enjoy every stage of the journey, wherever it takes you.

Check out WoV Community profile of Ciara Michel.

Make sure u check out our Interviews section for other interesting stories.

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