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.




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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.”



Craig Carracher

Craig has previously been a director of Volleyball Australia from 1996 to 1999 and was Chief Executive Officer during that period ahead of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. During his time with Volleyball Australia he was also the promoter of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour from 1999 to 2001 and has been involved with the Northern Beaches Volleyball Association based at Manly Beach since 1990. Craig was a member of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Development Commission, World Tour Beach Volleyball Commission and was previously the Asian Volleyball Confederation Secretary for Beach Volleyball. 

Craig was appointed President from 1 July 2013 following a career in law and private equity.  Craig was Group General Counsel for Kerry and James Packer's Consolidated Press Holdings and a director of numerous of its investee companies and established its Asian private equity business, Arctic Capital in Hong Kong and Beijing.  Craig was Managing Partner of Minter Ellison Lawyers in Thailand and a partner in Australia and advises leading US law firm Seyfarth Shaw as Chair of its Asia Pacific Capital Transactions Group.  Craig currently holds investments and directorships on global mining companies, listed real estate developers, private student accommodation operators, Chinese technology businesses and is Managing Director of Telopea Capital Partners.  Craig was CEO of Volleyball Australia from 1997-1999 ahead of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games a director from 1996.  Craig rejoined the board in 2011 and is now President of Oceania Volleyball, Executive Vice President Asian Volleyball Confederation and a director of FIVB, International Volleyball Federation. 

Craig obtained an LLB with first class honours and the University Medal from Sydney University Law School and a first class honours degree and the University Blue from Magdalen College, Oxford University. 



Vice President:
Phil Muller

Phil Muller has been involved in Volleyball at all levels of the game within Queensland and Australia, more recently as a Board member for Volleyball Queensland and Chair of the Australian Volleyball Schools Event Commission.  Currently Phil is employed by Queensland Department of Education and Training and is the Acting Manager for the DETA Sports Unit and is the Executive Officer of the Queensland School Sport Foundation. Phil was elected to the Board in 2009.








Vice President:
Anita Palm

Anita has extensive experience of multi-sport events through involvement at both event, planning and bidding stages of previous Olympics in Beijing and Sydney and the bid stages of London and Rio. This consultative work has included work on both the Olympics and Paralympics and has been crucial to the department planning, especially in the areas of sport from scheduling, through to entries, sport production, organisational integration and results. She is herself an Olympian. Anita is currently Head of Sport – Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation.




Finance Director:
Riad Tayeh

A member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia Riad has been the VA Finance Director since 1999. He is a member of both the FIVB Finance Commission and AVC Finance Commission.








Malcolm H Borgeaud B Com (with Distinction) FCPA MAICD

Malcolm has over a decade of experience in middle and senior management roles with an international sales and marketing company and twenty years experience in public accounting practice, with 14 as a principal. He brings to the Board a wealth of not-for-profit-governance and financial experience having been involved either at Board level, in tax and accounting advisory or audit roles for numerous not-for-profits, including charities and sporting bodies. He has served as Chairman on State and National Committees for CPA Australia and currently serves on their Environmental, Social and Governance Centre of Excellence providing CPA Australia and its 180,000 members with advice and direction on current environmental, corporate social responsibility and corporate governance issues. He also currently serves on the Boards of a number of not-for-profit organisations. Malcolm loves Volleyball, having played in the U20’s for Australia in the Pac Rim Tournament in 1978. 





Anouk Darling

Anouk was most recently chairman of Moon Communications Group, an STW Group company, where she was placed for a decade, first as Strategic Director and then as Chief Executive Officer. With over 15 years’ experience in marketing and brand strategy, she has been central to some of Australia’s largest re-branding projects across a broad range of sectors including energy, finance, retail and airlines. Anouk joined the Macquarie Telecom Board in March 2012 and is a member of the Audit and Risk Management Committee and the Corporate Governance, Nomination and Remuneration Committee. She has recently been appointed as a Non-Executive Director of Discovery Holiday Parks, majority owned by superannuation fund Sunsuper, which has more than one million members and $27 billion in funds under management. She has a BA, MBA (major in Marketing), AICD, AIMIA and AIM memberships.




Tracey Holmes

Tracey Holmes

For the past 25 years Tracey Holmes has worked in journalism and communications, working with some of the world’s most respected media platforms – CNN International, Dubai Eye, CCTV China, Foxtel, SBS and the ABC. One of Tracey’s first tours of duty following her sports broadcasting cadetship at the ABC was to anchor ABC TV's coverage of the Australian World Series Beach Volleyball Tour. An award-winning interviewer, Tracey has sat down and drawn the best out of a collection of the world's most interesting people - from Prime Ministers to Presidents, Kings and Sheikhs, from awe inspiring athletes to challenging and thought provoking academics, from legendary entertainers to the most ordinary men and women in the street. Tracey's passion for sport has seen her cover 10 Olympic Games. She's been a broadcast mentor for the IOC's Young Reporter Program at each of the three editions of the Youth Olympic Games. Currently Tracey is an ABC presenter and senior reporter, host of The Ticket on ABC News Radio, and frequent writer for The Drum.




Andrew Scotford





Secretary General (ex oficio):
Mathieu Meriaux - AVF Chief Executive Officer

Mathieu joined VA in March 2013 as the Competitions and Events Manager and was appointed CEO in April 2014. Mat has a strong background in the management of diverse and complex projects and events. Mat was previously General Manager for Triathlon ACT and was an event planner for the London Olympic and Paralympics Games. He holds a degree in Sports Science and is completing a double Masters in Business Administration and Politics.



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