The New Zealand Playaz came away with a World Championship title Gold medals in volleyball from the World Masters Games held recently in New Zealand.
The team, featured former New Zealand reps and professionals as well as Samoa’s very own, Fata and Tuna von Reiche of Samoa.
“The atmosphere at the Games was incredible. From day one you could feel the energy of the athletes buzzing throughout the city of Auckland; more than 100 countries in attendance, 28 sports and 45 disciplines. It was an experience that I’m glad I was a part of and won’t forget,” said Fata.
“Felt amazing to come away with a Gold medal and the World Champion title in the +30 indoor volleyball bracket. I have to say that being invited to join such a talented group of players with a high skill level and years of experience and professional careers was a definite highlight,” he added.
Mr. Von Reiche fell in love with volleyball by accident in his schoolboy days and hasn’t looked back.
“I started playing volleyball as a 14 year old at Nelson Boys College. Although rugby and basketball were my first choices, volleyball was an accidental discovery which Tuna and I came to love and enjoy. In all, I’ve been playing for 20 years and counting.”
And if you think Tuna and Fata are just really close brothers, they are actually twins.
Fata says playing alongside his twin and his old mates was definitely a highlight of the experience.
“I was very humbled and excited for the invitation to play alongside them and especially my twin brother, Tuna, who I played with 10 years ago, internationally. Being the only one from Samoa who flew over to play volleyball, I felt I was representing our nation and people also. It was also special knowing my Aunty Raema von Reiche, represented Samoa in sailing,” Fata said.
Fata said he would like to acknowledge those who made his trip possible.
“If it wasn’t for my personal sponsor, Barefoot Advertising in Apia, and the support of my friends and family, I would not have made it. It’s hard as an athlete playing a third tier sport which is volleyball, to find the funds to travel and compete at an international event,” he said.
With the next games in 2021, Fata would love to see more local support to send over athletes to compete in the World Masters Games.
“I do encourage more athletes and teams from Samoa to participate in the next World Masters Games 2021 which will be in Japan,” he said.
“More assistance from our local businesses and government would see a larger haul of medals next time round. Samoa has a pool of talented athletes just waiting to fly our flag.”
The World Masters Games is the world’s largest multi-sport event. Held every four years, it is the pinnacle sporting event for masters competitors worldwide.
In supporting the Olympic Games ethos of ‘sport for all’, the goal of the World Masters Games is to encourage participation in sport throughout life. Competition and camaraderie are equally celebrated.
Unlike an Olympics, all athletes represent themselves not their country, so there is no process of being selected.