Vale Walter Lebedew OAM
Volleyball Australia is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Walter Lebedew OAM. Walter was known as the ‘founding father’ of Volleyball Australia, due to his extraordinary contribution to the development of the sport over his life.
After migrating to Australia as a 16-year-old in 1949 with his family after World War II, Walter ‘Wally’ Lebedew taught himself to play and referee volleyball, wearing multiple hats as a South Australian athlete, coach, referee and club secretary from 1956 to 1970. During this time, he organised the first Australian Volleyball Championships in 1963 after he convened the foundation meeting of the Australian Volleyball Federation, served as its first Honorary Secretary for 12 years and followed up with a continuous period of 24 years as President, Vice President or Executive Member.
Thanks to his efforts, the National Women’s competition commenced in 1964, and he went on to organise the first-ever Asian Championships in 1975 in Melbourne, where Australia achieved a remarkable fourth-place finish in both the men’s and women’s competitions.
While he founded and published the Australian Volleyball Journal, Walter’s contributions to the sport were recognised on a global scale. He became a member of the FIVB International Jury for the first time in 1973, the Secretary of the Asian Volleyball Confederation Sport Organising Commission in 1977 and a FIVB Representative and Technical Advisor in 1979.
From 1979 to 1983, Walter was Chairman of the Oceania Volleyball Confederation and nurtured the sport to grow from a recreational pastime to the highly-competitive high performance sport it is today.
The proud South Australian founded the Volleyball South Australia state association and was awarded the first VSA life membership in 1973. He was awarded Volleyball Australia life membership four years later, received the prestigious title of Order of Australia (OAM) for services to volleyball in 1985 and an Australian Sports Medal in 2000.
The Australian Olympic Committee delegate also introduced both his sons, Mark and Alexis, into the sport, with the pair both having successful playing and coaching careers – with Mark recently coaching the Australian Men’s Volleyroos.
“Walter’s outstanding legacy to volleyball in Australia will be remembered forever,” said Craig Carracher AM, Volleyball Australia President. “We pass on our deepest condolences to Mark, Alexis and his family.”