Olympic hopefuls look to make their mark on Cook Islands



Even though there’s nothing riding on this week’s Oceania Olympic qualification tournament in the Cook Islands for Australia, four teams who are hoping to make it to Rio next year are looking to make a statement.

The Cook Islands event acts as a qualifier for the Asian Olympic qualifiers next year, but as host nation Australia will be guaranteed starts.

Four Australian teams, two men and two women, are competing at Raratonga, including Australia’s world U23 champions, Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar.

“This tournament is the best opportunity to prepare for the Asian Continental Cup in June next year, as its the only other time we'll play a tournament of the same style,” Laird said.

“We're going into it with the same approach we'd look to take in the final tournament, so we can see what areas we still need the most improvement in to be successful when it really counts.”

Australia’s top-rated women’s team of Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy are practically guaranteed a Rio position because of their current world ranking, throwing the race wide open for a potential second Australian team.

2012 Olympian, Becchara Palmer, who played with Bawden in London, is playing with Queensland’s Jordan Mowen in Raratonga.

“I think that although we are still a fairly new pairing, we made some good progress on the Asian Tour so we would like to build on from that,” Mowen said.

“It is also a very new but exciting experience to be playing as a "big" team with the other girls, so we would like to contribute our best performance so we can all reap the benefits.”

In the men’s competition, former Danish international Bo Soderberg and Perth’s Cole Durant will be looking to build on their exciting early results since coming together as a pair in recent months.

“It's a really cool format because it's not just about me or my team, it's about the greater Australian team and the whole sport of beach volleyball in Australia,” Durant said.

“Earning an Olympic spot is very important for our sport’s future, and of course winning this tournament puts us in the best position to win the golden ticket in June.

“I feel a bigger sense of selflessness or responsibility to perform well for our country but still just excited to compete against quality opposition in an amazing country. I'm looking forward to just stepping on court, battling it out and hopefully representing Australia with pride.”

Australia’s second men’s team, Melbourne-based Joshua Court and Damien Schumann, will be looking to build on some reasonable recent results in Indonesia and Turkey.

The Australian teams begin their Oceania campaigns on Wednesday, Australian time.




Volleyball Australia (VA) is seeking Expressions of Interest from suitably qualified coaches for the following important national positions.




Get more information here.

Schwartz family join Volleyball Australia team


Jerry Schwartz aims to revive Sydney 2000 spirit with partnership of Australian Volleyball.

13 October 2015: Tourism and hospitality entrepreneur, Dr Jerry Schwartz, announced today that the Schwartz Family Company would become a major sponsor of Volleyball Australia as the sport attempts to revive the highs achieved during the 2000 Olympics.

The sponsorship was announced today at Parliament House, with NSW Premier Mike Baird welcoming Dr Schwartz's support for the sport as it gears up to challenge for gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Dr Schwartz, who is Australia's largest private owner of hotels in Australia, is already a major sporting supporter, keen philanthropist and supporter of charities across the State.

The sponsorship will cover all aspects of volleyball - indoor and beach volleyball, women's, men's and junior.

He joins other major partners of the sport including Mrs Gina Rinehart and Bendon Lingerie manufacturer, Eric Watson.

"Who can forget the impact our women's beach volleyball team made to the success of Sydney's Olympic Games in 2000?" said Dr Schwartz.

"The tournament captured everything that is good about Sydney and as we head down the road to Rio, we need to recapture that spirit and vitality. A successful competition on the sand in Rio will be an enormous advertisement for Australia's beach and sporting culture.

"Our beach volleyball team is ranked in the top 5 in the world, and with extra resources we can get back to our gold status.

"In particular, this support will boost women's sport. So much sporting investment favours traditionally male sports, whereas volleyball has a strong focus on women and girls, and they deserve greater support."

Volleyball Australia President, Craig Carracher, said the generous support of the Schwartz Family Company comes at an exciting time for the sport in Australia.

“Our beach teams, and our women in particular, are currently among the best in the world, while our men’s indoor team is on the verge of an exciting Rio qualifying campaign,” Mr Carracher said.

“Our women’s indoor program has been re-launched after years of little government funding, and we have some of the biggest junior sports programs in Australia.

“None of this is possible without the support of people like Dr Jerry Schwartz. It is fantastic to have someone with his vision and generosity on board.”

Volleyball Australia Chief Commercial Officer, Rod Harys, said Australian businesses were recognising what the sport has to offer.

“Volleyball is the most gender equal sport in the world, it is one of the most popular sports in the world, and whether it is indoor or beach, it is a thrilling sport to watch,” Mr Harys said.

“Having the support of sponsors of the calibre of the Schwartz Family Company, Mrs Gina Rinehart and Bendon, and the recent signing of Three Threes Condiments, Mightymite, Hope Estate Wines, Sunland, Mitronics and Sails Restaurant Group underlines that this is a sport going forward.

“And that will be further exemplified on the sand of Copacabana Beach and in a Maracana stadium next year. It is an exciting time for beach and indoor volleyball.”


The Australian Sports Commission's National Officiating Scholarship Program aims to assist in the development of potential future high performance officials. The program is built on the desire to provide a career pathway for the officials upon completion of the scholarship. The structure for this intense learning program is flexible to meet the individual needs of the sport, duration varies from 4 to 52 weeks. Officials will be required to participate in hands-on officiating and undertake professional development courses and update/upgrade their level in the National Officiating Accreditation Scheme (NOAS).

Looking To The Future: 2009 & beyond

VA intends to apply for one or more scholarships on an annual basis. Details of the application process for interested referees will be displayed once they are released by the ASC around September each year. 

Ideally VA is seeking to support a scholarship program that will support a referee with a current AVRC accreditation of National AAA become an International Referee.  This will mean the intended scholarship program will include the following as its major components: 

  • Attendance at an FIVB International Candidate Course
  • Attendance at an international tournament in an observational capacity
  • Attendance at an international tournament as Australian representative referee

Other aspects relating to activity within Australia will be determined once a scholarship has been awarded. 


It is also appropriate to note that if no suitable applications are received from referees with a current AVRC accreditation of National AAA, VA will seek to support an application from referees with an AVRC accreditation at any National accreditation level, or even a State accreditation level if from one of the smaller Member States, to participate in a scholarship program focused on increased national level exposure and/or preparation for becoming an International Referee in the future. This is similar to the programs undertaken by Kevin Lentin and Russell Egan in 2005.

Please be aware there is no guarantee VA will be awarded a scholarship. The suitability of each sport applying to be awarded a scholarship depends on the quality of the referee education program in that sport, the ability of the sport to provide a quality scholarship program and the quality of the applications received from potential scholarship officials. Therefore, applicants should ensure that their application is of the highest quality, including presentation standard.

If interested in obtaining further information on potential scholarship applications and/or programs, please contact the VA Development Manager.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">

General information can be viewed on the ASC National Officiating Scholarship Program web page.

Current and Previous Officiating Scholarship Recipients: 

  • 2009 - Rob Szydlowski (Volleyball)
  • 2008 - Darren Grimsey (Beach Volleyball)
  • 2007 - Kevin Lentin and Cameron Olson (Beach Volleyball)
  • 2006 - Carla Hoorweg (Volleyball)
  • 2005 - Kevin Lentin (Beach Volleyball) Russell Egan (Volleyball)
  • 2004 - Phong Nguyen (Volleyball)



Image not available


Image not available