Beach Volleyball to pursue Olympic qualifiers
The Samoa men and women beach volleyball teams have turned their focus to the Continental Cup in December after their exit from the XVI Pacific Games.
Both teams did not make it into medal contention in the Pacific Games, after the men's team was defeated by Tahiti in the quarter finals while Solomon Islands defeated the women's team, but that has not dampen their spirits according to national coach Aaron Aslop.
Aslop said external factors influenced the way the men's team played but everyone is still proud of their performance.
"The pressure that’s been put on the guys because of external factors influence the way that they play and we’re very proud of them moving forward and they’ve got the continental cup in December.
"So there is two men’s pair, two women’s pair for that, and that’s the first round of the Olympic qualifiers.
"So we’ve had a good taste of it here, the team that played today won’t be at those tournaments, because they’re not in that Olympic pathway for our region," he said.
Alsop hopes that the new beach volleyball facilities will be maintained to standard for the team to train on, rather than the usual dirt patch they used to train on in the last six months.
"So moving forward, I hope there is some agreement in place for the sport to be able to access facility and that it’s well maintained in the condition that allows us to train to the standard that we want to train.
"The players are very comfortable training at home, here where they’re close to their families and they get that support but now that we have this sort of facility, that’s sort of a next step for the sport is being able to grow the participation so that we start to look for who’s the next 18-22 year olds to get ready for 2023," he said.
Alsop said there was no disappointment with the teams' loss, but rather proud of their efforts, as they have created quite a profile of the sport in Samoa.
"So all credit to them and I think now that they’ve created a bit of a profile for the sport, we hope that there are some younger athletes that are interested to learn to play beach volleyball, particularly the girls as well.
"We know there is a lot of talent in the girls, but for whatever reason; I’ve only been here six months so I’m not sure why they’re not engaging in the sport and I think it’s up to the administrators to look at ways now to profile it.
"It’s a wonderful gender balanced sport, no contact, it’s very cheap to run and it’s a very wonderful family sport that people can get behind," said Alsop.
Prior to the Pacific Games, Neval Stowers and Eneliko Tui outperformed everyone's expectations and won gold for Samoa in the Arafura Games beach volleyball tournament in Australia.