Northern Territory returns to Australian Youth Beach Volleyball Championships after seven-year hiatus

Northern Territory returns to Australian Youth Beach Volleyball Championships after seven-year hiatus

The second of four events included in VolleySlam, the Australian Youth Beach Volleyball Championships began today on Coolangatta Beach, with 210 teams and 513 players working hard to set themselves up for success at the four-day event.

For the first time since 2017, the Northern Territory is involved in the annual tournament, sending five players across two teams.

Konstantinos (Tino) Koukouvas is playing with Queenslander Masaki Williams in his first-ever Australian Youth Beach Volleyball Championships, and could not be more thrilled to be competing in the U18 Boys draw.

“Excited would be an understatement – it’s electrifying.” said Tino. “I can’t believe I’m here, wearing NT gear and representing the state, it’s such an honour.”

“I’ve been wanting to play in a state team since I was 13 and found out about them, but for years it just hasn’t worked out. This year we finally got a few more volunteers and parents that were keen to help and we were able to hold our first tryout, but I was the only one who showed up.

“I reached out to some of my friends from Queensland to see if anyone was interested in playing. I was so stoked when Masaki said he would play with me, I know it’s a big call for him to play for a different state and I’m just so grateful because I wouldn’t be here if not for him. He’s an awesome person and we mesh well together.

“We’ve been training separately in our home states, and I can’t believe we’re finally here. I’m obviously hoping for a medal. It would mean a lot to me and to my state, but I also know that every other kid here is hoping for the exact same thing.

“I guess I’m just hoping to play my best volleyball and enjoy it as much as possible because it’s my first national beach event ever.

At home on an indoor court, Tino is enjoying this chance to try out his skills on the sand.

“I’m usually an indoor player so this is a huge opportunity for me. I’ve been to a few indoor development camps and every time I just try to soak up as much information as I can from all the coaches and players. I think being here will be similar; there’s so many different people to learn from, so I can’t wait for the next three days,” said Tino.

“It’s just so much fun to be out on the beach playing against other kids my own age. I come from a place where not many people play volleyball, let alone beach volleyball, and in some ways it’s harder to get better when you don’t have many people pushing you, so to be here and around so many talented kids is incredible.

“The staff we have here with us are all volunteers and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone donating their time. I’m especially thankful to our manager Bayley (Valentine) for getting us here and believing in us,” he finished.

Also from the Northern Territory is Isabel Gardiner, playing with Emily Yandell and Zhalara Tove in the U15 Girls division.

“It’s so exciting to be here representing the Northern Territory and getting to play against teams from all different states,” began Isabel.

“It’s my first time here and I honestly don’t really know what I was expecting because this is all completely new, but it’s been amazing and really fun.

“It would be fun to place but I think this weekend is mainly about making new memories and trying new things,” she said.

For draw information and results – click here.

Volleyslam 2024 is supported by Experience Gold Coast and the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland.

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