Volleyball New Zealand confirms the Volley Ferns and Volley Blacks will face Chile in June and July.
The Volley Ferns will travel first, arriving in Chile on June 26 for a series of matches which will finish by July 7 before the Volley Blacks make the trip with their tour commencing on July 12 and running through to July 22.
Volleyball New Zealand Toni-Maree Carnie says the invitation from Chile is exciting for the national teams after a long period of inactivity due to Covid-19.
“We are delighted to be able to confirm our involvement in the tours to Chile.
“As with most sports, Covid-19 has hit our international programme tremendously hard and to be able to re-start senior international activity with tours to Chile is a massive opportunity for everyone in the programmes.”
The chance for both international sides to face Chile has come through discussions and connections of Volley Ferns and Volley Blacks coach Sebastian Gonzalez back to his homeland.
“Seb has been instrumental in the discussions which have seen the tour confirmed and we are working now to confirm the lead-in camps and contacts for him and the players to prepare.”
Christchurch-based Gonzalez says the games against Chile will give the New Zealand sides a true international benchmark for building the campaigns ahead, leading towards future tours and tests as well as Asian Championship competition.
“It’s going to be a really good chance for us to see where we are as national teams,” says Gonzalez.
“We haven’t had the chance to go play overseas so we haven’t been able to be tested and see what we need to focus on for the next couple of years. This is going to give us a good understanding of the level we can perform at with the national teams.
“On the women’s side of the tour, Gonzalez is expecting a full-strength host side to meet his Volley Ferns.
“The level for the women’s national team for the women’s side is quite strong. At the moment they’ll be sitting third or fourth in South America behind Argentina and Brazil – the strongest teams in South America. They have a lot of college players who go and play in the States and I’m assuming they’ll be counting on a full squad.”
The Volley Blacks will encounter a Chilean men’s side ranked 27th in the world, after playing in the Pan-American Cup in August 2022, finishing fourth after taking a set off the sixth-ranked USA team in the bronze medal match.
“The men in the last couple of years has been a really good programme for Chile,” Gonzalez says.
“They won the South American cup last year for the first time in their history. Most of them are professional players, they play in Argentina, Italy and different places in Europe. So it’s going to be a really strong squad.”
After a series of training camps in April and May, travelling squads for both tours will be named with game dates and details to follow shortly.
With the confirmation of the tours to Chile, Volleyball New Zealand also confirmed the National Volleyball League (NVL) will not proceed in 2023.
Volleyball New Zealand will commence a Competitions Review in April which will shape the future structure of the player pathway, including the positioning of the NVL for 2024 and beyond.
Carnie says that, with the Chile tour timing conflicting with the preferred window for delivery of the NVL and the wider review about to begin, the international tours will be the focus of 2023.
“The tour to Chile takes priority given the lack of senior international competition in recent years due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“The NVL product is critical to the future of our sport, and we need to ensure we have the correct and sustainable model in place for it to flourish, for everyone involved. Our coming Competitions Review and our on-going work to secure commercial partners will help determine the way forwards,” Carnie says.
Source : Sunmedia