The aspirations of New Zealand’s best beach volleyballers have got a welcome boost recently with confirmation of a High Performance Sport New Zealand grant supporting Volleyball NZ’s beach programme.

The grant confirms $204,000 annually for the next three years ahead of the 2022  Commonwealth Games and 2024 Paris Olympics and will go towards a tailored programme and opportunities which support Volleyball New Zealand’s development of athletes towards high level competition events.

Volleyball NZ CEO Toni-Maree Carnie says the funding comes after some great work from VNZ performance staff and several key members of the volleyball community.

“This is a great result for our sport and our players, and I would like to thank those who contributed and assisted in pulling our approach together,” Carnie said.

“This funding now gives our programme and players certainty and a strong platform from which we can launch towards those key pinnacle events in our calendar.”

NZ Volleyball High Performance Coach Jason Lochhead says New Zealand’s best players will now have opportunities on a world stage that were previously out of reach.

“With this funding we will be able to begin to open doors for our best players into competitions and environments we haven’t been able to access recently,” Lochhead said.

“That improved preparation and experience will be vital in speeding up the development journey for our top players which will lead to improved performances against the top players in the world.”

A key part of the funding announced by High Performance Sport relates to athlete wellbeing and Volleyball NZ Performance Manager Colleen Campbell believes the sport is well-placed in this area.

“Volleyball NZ is committed to ensuring that the health and wellbeing of our athletes is of paramount importance,” said Campbell. “Key focusses for us are confirming the appropriate processes and systems are in place, providing support within the daily performance environment and ensuring that athletes have a genuine voice and opportunity to input into our development plans.”

The news came as a pre-Christmas present ahead of the G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour which got underway on January 15-16 at Northland’s Ruakaka Beach. However, the tournament has unfortunately been suspended due to the impact of Cyclone Cody.

With the scheduled event this weekend now suspended, SMC Events and Volleyball NZ will discuss the status of the event, including opportunities for rescheduling, and confirm plans as soon as possible.

G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour dates and locations:

January 22-23: Mt Maunganui Beach, Mt Maunganui

February 12-13: Tahunanui Beach, Tasman

February 18-20: Cathedral Square, Christchurch

March 5-6: Mt Maunganui Beach, Mt Maunganui

March 11-13: North Harbour Beach Volleyball Centre, Auckland

Suspended (status TBC): January 15-16: Ruakaka Beach, Northland

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