New Zealand beach volleyball will experience an exciting first for the game in 2023 with the confirmation of the hosting of a Beach Pro Tour Futures event in Mt Maunganui.
The March 16-19 event will be the first Beach Pro Tour stop ever held in New Zealand and follows quickly after confirmation of a refreshed G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour presented by Tip Top for 2023.
Volleyball New Zealand CEO Toni-Maree Carnie said the event is an important step for the sport in New Zealand.
“We’re obviously delighted to confirm the hosting of the Futures event in Mt Maunganui,” Carnie said.
“With the excellent support of Tauranga City Council, and our sponsors G.J. Gardner Homes, Tip Top and Bachcare among others, we’re able to bring a Beach Pro Tour event to the home of beach volleyball in New Zealand.”
“Hosting the event will be hugely beneficial for the development of our best athletes and they will have strong preparation with the Futures event coming immediately after the finish of the 2023 New Zealand beach tour.”
The Futures event will feature 16 teams in both men’s and women’s Main Draw competition and will be one of several in the Oceania region with events slated for the Pacific Islands and Australia in March and April.
Volleyball New Zealand High Performance Coach Jason Lochhead says the Futures event is an important moment in development of beach volleyball in this country.
“I never thought I’d see the day when New Zealand would host a FIVB tournament, but the great work Volleyball New Zealand are putting in have made this a reality,” Lochhead said.
“Hosting this event provides the chance for our elite and aspiring athletes to play and watch international teams, something that will be hugely beneficial for them as individuals but also the development of the wider game.”
Tauranga City Council Venues and Events Manager, Nelita Byrne can’t wait for the Beach Pro Tour to hit the Mt Maunganui sand in March.
“It’s exciting Tauranga is hosting this event, beach volleyball is very much part of our region’s DNA,” Byrne said.
“Having an event of this status will be an amazing opportunity for our community to experience and be inspired by these international athletes.”
The Beach Pro Tour structure includes three tiers of competition: Elite 16, Challenge and Futures.
The Futures level of the tour feeds towards the Challenge level events with New Zealand Beach Ferns and Beach Blacks athletes competing in several Futures events in the lead up to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham earlier this year.
Beach Ferns Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley have recently competed in the Elite 16 event in Australia while Beach Black Brad Fuller won a Futures event in Italy in July with then playing partner Sam O’Dea.