Jason Haldane_16-04-12May 30 - Canadian-born Jason Haldane (pictured) is due to make his debut for Britain's volleyball team today as they continue their build-up towards the London 2012 Olympics.

The 37-year-old with an English-born father from Clarke Hall, Wakefield, will make his GB debut in an "Ashes"-style showdown with Australia, at the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield.

Haldane, who has played professionally in France, Italy and Belgium and who won volleyball’s equivalent of the Champions League in 2001, is seen by British volleyball chiefs as a major catalyst for the development of the team as it builds towards appearing at the London Olympics in 2012.

Kenny Barton, the performance programme manager of British Volleyball Federation (BVF), said: “Jason is a vastly experienced athlete and for a player of his calibre to be joining the squad on the road to 2012 is a major coup for volleyball.

"His performance statistics are still virtually second to none and not only will he add quality to the team, he will also impart his experience to the exciting young prospects now coming through.

“Despite his age, I know Jason’s dream is to play in the Olympics.

"It is one of the few things missing from an otherwise glittering CV.

"He has kept himself in incredible shape and has just completed a great season in Italy and provided he stays healthy, there is no ,reason why he cannot still be playing in London three years from now.”

Haldane was a member of Canada's team from 1992 until 2004 but they never qualified for the Olympics.

He said: “After 2004 I came to the realisation that I was not going to go to the Olympics, there were no more opportunities, I accepted it and moved on.

The door has now swung right open again for Haldane, and he admitted it still feels unreal.

He said: “I can’t comprehend it quite yet.

“It’s a dream for any athlete at a high level...it’s so unreal, I don’t think it’s a reality yet...it’s taking awhile to sink in.” 

The opportunity arose because of Haldane's friendship with Harry Brokking, Britain's Dutch-born head coach, and thanks to his father's birth place which meant he was able to apply for a British passport.

But he admitted: “I feel a little ashamed not playing for Canada."

Haldane is confident that he will still be around in 2012 even though he will be 41 by the time of the Games.

He said: “I am fortunate that I’ve stayed healthy and been able to play this long.

"I don’t feel old.”

Australia are one of the world’s top 10 sides and the International Challenge Series match against the British men’s side will act as a warm up to the British squad’s assault on this year’s Confederation European de Volleyball (CEV) League series.

Britain’s women’s team will be making their home debut in this summer’s inaugural women’s European League.

It will be a mouth watering double header of top volleyball at the EIS Sheffield with the opening matches tonight.

Each European League group consists of four teams, with home and away matches during a month-long period.

For the first time Britain’s home matches will take place across the UK, including in Sheffield, Edinburgh and Norwich.

Britain's men have been drawn in Pool-A against Croatia, Turkey and Spain, while the women have been drawn in Pool-B against Turkey, Romania and France.

Games will start at 3pm each day and tickets are priced at £8.00 for adults and £4.00 for concessions.

For tickets and full fixture information visit www.britishvolleyball.org