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Aitutaki volleyball back to stay

Tuesday 6 April 2010 | Published in Regional

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The comeback of Aitutaki’s annual Easter volleyball tournament drew out the whole island and lifted spirits of hundreds of men, women and children yesterday.

It was just the tonic the island’s citizens needed after the thrashing and setback caused by Cyclone Pat.

It was the first time the Easter Monday event has been staged in three years, after running annually since 1992 as a beach volleyball tournament hosted in its early years by the Rapae Hotel under manager JJ Browne.

Among those thrilled with the turnout and the carnival atmosphere yesterday, JJ Browne said he hoped the tournament would now be reinstated as an annual sports day.

It had always been a draw card for the whole community, he said, and it was clearly popular with all generations.

Cook Islands News, which put $5000 toward the event as a cyclone recovery project, confirmed yesterday that it will sponsor the day for the next three years.

This is in association with TNM Trading, the CI News news agents on Aitutaki.

Principal Teina Bishop donated extra cash prizes of $300 yesterday for the first three women’s teams in the under 13, under 16 and open divisions. In future years it is intended restoring the mamas and papas and golden ladies’ divisions, alongside the under 13, under 16 and open divisions.

High spirits and laughter rang out from the Araura College grounds from 8 o’clock in the morning when the 49 teams of six paraded around the grounds, to the exciting finals at 5 o’clock. Vendors and shops set up stalls selling hot and cold foods and drinks.

Up to early afternoon when the quarter-finals began, it was common to see hand-slapping and hear outbursts of laughter and giggling after nearly every volley.

Adding to the atmosphere were colourful uniforms sported by teams calling themselves names like Slam Girls, Pink Panthers, Rinos Swaggers, Offspring, Still Learning, Green Machine, Kake Kae Kae Kake, Mighty Vaiko Boys, Criminals, Rip Off Mustangs, Polynesian Chix, Nanny Girls, OUCH and even Cyclone Pat.