Artacho del Solar guiding next generation at Scape Australian Beach Volleyball Schools Cup
Over 700 secondary school students are on Coolangatta Beach this week for the Scape Australian Beach Volleyball Schools Cup, putting their beach volleyball skills to the test against other students from right around the country.
While the Schools Cup focuses on teamwork, participation and having fun, there’s a very familiar face on the sand providing coaching guidance to some students.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallist Mariafe Artacho del Solar touched down in Australia on Wednesday after winning bronze with her teammate Taliqua Clancy at the Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 event in Tepic, Mexico. Just two days later, she put her coaching hat on for Kelvin Grove State College in Brisbane.
Artacho del Solar said she wished she had access to a national tournament such as the Beach Schools Cup when she was developing her craft as a teenager.
“I’m down here with Kelvin Grove helping out with the Schools Cup event this week and it’s so amazing to see over 700 kids playing beach volleyball. When I was younger, there wasn’t this amount of exposure and over the years it’s been amazing to see how our sport has grown and to see how many kids are playing such an amazing sport,” Artacho del Solar said.
“It would have been awesome [to have an event like this growing up]. If we had the opportunity to play beach volleyball like this, it would have been amazing and so many kids would have been involved because it’s such a fun sport and you make so many friends.”
With the Gold Coast set to host the beach volleyball competition at the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Games in nine years’ time, Artacho del Solar says she is excited by the talent coming through the junior ranks, and looks forward to facing the next generation of Aussie beach volleyballers.
“I think a lot of these kids will have Brisbane in mind… it’s super exciting, we have so much potential, but I think I still want to be around then, so they’ll have a bit of competition still,” she laughed.
The Scape Australian Beach Volleyball Schools Cup is running alongside the Gold Coast Beach Pro Tour Futures event, as part of the Volleyslam 2023 beach volleyball festival.
So not only do the year 7-12 students have the opportunity to test their skills against other students, but they also have the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the world, as they play on adjacent courts to the international Volleyball World tour.
Ruby Smith and Madera Famous from Wesley College in Melbourne said they are relishing the opportunity to learn from the international players.
“It’s really good to watch them because you get to see where you can go in the future and compare how you play to how they play,” Smith said.
“It’s nice to see anyone playing who is older and has more experience… so I can improve my game and do my best,” Famous added.
Both students agreed that playing students from right around Australia is a major highlight of the Schools Cup.
“It’s a really fun experience because you get to play teams you haven’t played against before and learn different skills,” Famous said.
“It’s really fun, everyone is really nice and it’s an all-round social event,” Smith added.
The Scape Australian Beach Volleyball Schools Cup will wrap up on Sunday 2 April, with semifinals starting from 8am. Follow the schedule and results HERE