THE forecast for Edinburgh this weekend looks surprisingly benign for late September, with temperatures in the high teens and no rain expected.

Not that it really matters if it wasn’t. The stereotype that beach volleyball can only be played with the sun splitting the skies couldn’t be further from the truth.

Those venturing out to watch the Commonwealth Games qualifying event on Portobello Beach will no doubt be grateful if it stays mild and dry but for those taking to the sand it makes little difference if it’s pouring down, snowing or blowing a gale. This isn’t Baywatch.   

“Rain is part of the sport,” says Lynne Beattie, volleyball veteran and former  Olympic Team GB captain, who will represent Scotland with playing partner Melissa Coutts this weekend.

“We play in all weather conditions apart from thunder and lightning as that can be dangerous. We’re ready for anything as Mel and I have been playing beach volleyball all year round for a while now which brings its challenges.

“At a couple of events in Europe over the summer the weather has been terrible so we’re used to that side of things.

“We’ve got two permanent courts at Portobello and a club that’s based there so they just had to add a few extra bits and pieces to what was already there to get prepared for this event.

“It’s probably one of the few permanent sites that we have in the country so you can play there all year round. So whatever weather comes this weekend we’ll be ready for it – it’s not glamorous all the time!”

Portobello will welcome teams from Wales, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and Cyprus to the sands this weekend, with the winner claiming a European berth at next summer’s Games alongside hosts England.

Beattie and Coutts represented Scotland at the sport’s debut on Australia’s Gold Coast in 2018 – finishing fifth – and are keen to book their place at what should be a much different spectacle in land-locked Birmingham. Graham Riddle and Jamie McHardy will also go this weekend for the men.

“This event has been on our minds since the start of the season so we’ve been gearing up for it for a while now,” adds Beattie.

“Gold Coast was amazing. When I first started playing with Mel, getting to the Commonwealth Games was our original goal so to get there and compete was just incredible.

“We got to play the eventual winners and the world champions at that time, Canada, and got to experience a big crowd who were really into it as beach volleyball is huge out there.

“It will be a bit different in Birmingham with it obviously not being on the coast. There’s talk of creating an in-land stadium in the city centre so it will be completely man-made so that should create a great atmosphere and a bit of a different experience should we qualify.”

Beattie, originally from Newton Mearns, is a pharmacy graduate but hasn’t had cause to indulge in any drug dispensing just yet.

After a professional playing career that took her to various spots around Europe, the 35 year-old now works as a Regional Development Officer for Scottish Volleyball, delivering the sport to the next generation.

“I had five years playing professionally indoors in five different countries which was a great experience to only focus on volleyball and just enjoy playing it,” she adds.

“And now I’m fortunate enough to still be working in the sport and trying to drive things forward from a developmental point of view.

“Beach volleyball is probably as strong as it’s ever been in Scotland with clubs now dedicated to that side of the sport all around the country, and juniors playing from primary school upwards.

“Kids absolutely love it. The sand takes away the fear factor so they love diving about and the fact it’s outdoors just means they’re getting lots of fresh air in the lungs so that can only be good.

“We get people travelling from all over to train and play at Portobello on a regular basis so there’s definite interest there. We’re expecting a good crowd at the qualifying event and hopefully anyone watching for the first time might decide to take it up off the back of what they see.”