Cook Islands continues to receive praise for successful hosting of the World Beach Volleyball Tour, almost a week after the event.
The National Beach Courts in Nikao last week hosted international teams in a one-star Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) sanctioned tournament.
The men’s pair event featured 19 teams from nine countries: Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Tuvalu and USA.
Hugh Graham, the president of Cook Islands Volleyball Federation, says almost a week after the historical hosting, he is inundated with messages of congratulations from around the world.
“The hard work and sacrifices from our volleyball family, sponsors and volunteers has most definitely paid off,” Graham said.
“We created the opportunity for two firsts, first Pacific island to host a World Beach Volleyball Tour event (outside of Australia) and the opportunity for Sam O’Dea and Griffin Muller of New Zealand to win their first gold medal at a World Beach Volleyball Tour event!”
Graham said endorsing the hosting of such an event was not something that happened overnight.
He said they have been trying to get this event to the Cook Islands for the past two years.
Graham also admitted that there were a number of challenges facing Cook Islands Volleyball prior and during the Tour event.
“This is what it is all about, it helps us to understand, grow and ensure that we continue to provide the best we can in being great hosts as well as produce a professional looking and organised sporting event.”
The hosting rights also provided the Cook Islands teams an opportunity to play against some of the best in the world.
Team Cook Islands bundled out of the tournament without a win but not before gaining some much needed international exposure and experience.
The national side, who fielded two teams, played two games each and lost them.
But senior player Brendon Heath earlier said the tournament was a “good learning curve” especially for the newcomers in the teams.
Heath teamed up with 17 year old Raiti Herman while Toa Herman and Arvi Enoka formed the other team.
“We started off well but couldn’t back it up with strong performance later in those matches. We didn’t train for this event and that probably was the reason we couldn’t hold onto our good start. But it was good to get a couple of games at this level,” Health earlier said.
Hugh Graham said the successful hosting would not have been possible without the support from their sponsors Vodafone, Oceania Volleyball, Cook Islands Tourism, Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee, Edgewater Resort and Spa, Ministry of Culture, Polynesian Car and Bike Hire, Bank of the Cook Islands and the Ministry of Health.
He also thanked FIVB delegates Blair Harrison and Stephen Giugni, the international and local referees and the volunteers.
“To all the players from Australia, Canada, Cook Islands, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Tuvalu, United States of America, A1 Meitaki for coming to our little bit of paradise and making history with us,” Graham said.
“To our volleyball family, you should all be very proud of what you have achieved in hosting this historical FIVB World Beach Volleyball Tour event.”