IN A gym hall at a Thornliebank high school, three teenagers demonstrate some of the impressive skills helping them achieve a piece of Scottish sporting history.

Uzair Nabi, Murray Gilchrist and Sam Harrison are on their way to the European Championships in Greece, as part of the under-20s men’s national indoor volleyball team.

It is a historic first for the sport, as it is the first time any UK team of any age or stage has qualified for this prestigious competition.

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“We are proud, yeah,” says Uzair, during a break from training. “It’s an amazing opportunity.”

The team beat formidable opponents on their way to qualification, securing a top 15 place in Europe and a significant haul of world-ranking points into the bargain.

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The three 17-year-olds, who are all from Giffnock and are in sixth year at Woodfarm High School, now have to raise the £12,000 required – with the support of a dedicated tartan army of parents and friends - to get them to Greece.

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All three boys took up the sport at school, inspired by head of PE and former volleyball player Stuart McCracken, and now also play for local men’s teams. They have been runners-up in the Scottish Schools Cup Final two years in a row.

“We all started at the school’s lunchtime club and just really enjoyed it, it was a bit different,” explains Murray, adding with a smile: “Plus it was the only sport I was any good at.”

Sam added: “I liked the team aspect of it – I played tennis before and you’re mostly in singles, or sometimes doubles, but volleyball has a great team atmosphere. And the volleyball community is great.”

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Uzair, who plays libero (defence), has set his sights on a volleyball scholarship in America. He already has offers coming in from US schools, he explains.

“I’m aiming for a Division One school if I can,” he says. “I want to prove myself there, and push it as far as I can go.”

Sam, the outside hitter, and Murray, the setter, are also considering applying for US scholarships.

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Sam explains: “My position requires height so I want to see if I can grow a bit more and apply next year.”

Murray adds: “I’m thinking about applying next year but even if I don’t go to America, I just want to keep playing. I want to play volleyball, whatever way I can, here or abroad.”

Stuart McCracken said it was “amazing” that such a small school (Woodfarm High has around 690 pupils) had produced such a high proportion of a national squad.

“They boys have demonstrated the commitment, performance and mindset required to achieve at the highest level,” he explains. “We’re all immensely proud of all they have achieved and are excited to see what the future holds.”

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Headteacher Gillian Boyle is proud of the school’s sporting record, with multiple Sportscotland Gold awards and successful netball, athletics and dance teams already making their mark alongside the boys' and girls' volleyball squads.

“I’m really proud of the boys, they have worked incredibly hard to get to this point and the fact that they are qualifying for the under-20s, an age group up, is really impressive,” she added.

“The younger pupils really look up to them, there’s a lot of hero worship going on now they are in the Scotland squad. The boys are also great at coming back to help out with young players just starting out.”

Woodfarm High has “blossomed” into a huge part of the Scottish volleyball community, says Ally Jack, high performance coach and coaching manager of Scottish Volleyball.

“Murray, Uzair and Sam progressing from the initial stages of our national team pathway as recently as last September, is fantastic,” he explains.

“The school staff, in particular Stuart McCracken, have played a huge part in this development.

"The summer period is normally the off-season for indoor players, but this year it represents a huge opportunity for the Woodfarm pupils and the rest of the squad to prepare for our first ever European Championship.”

Eona Craig, who is a trustee of charity Volleyball Scotland (and Murray’s mum), said the whole community was proud of the pupils.

“We are now looking for donations, sponsors and partners to help get them to Greece, and to contribute to the growth of volleyball, and access to it, across the country,” she explains.

It is an uphill struggle to fundraise in the current climate, but the boys are determined.

 “We’ll find the money, somehow,” says Murray, firmly. “It is the first time any Scottish team has qualified, so not to go would be a bit of a waste.”

If you would like to donate to the team’s fundraising efforts, email or visit the Volleyball for Scotland website.