April 14, 2024

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Volleyball Hopes Soar for Napier’s Daniel Smith, Darrius Ngarotata-Pauling

3 min read
Volleyball Hopes Soar for Napier's Daniel Smith, Darrius Ngarotata-Pauling

With hopes of receiving international scholarships and pursuing professional careers in one of the world’s fastest-growing sports, two Napier teenagers are traveling to Thailand in August as representatives of the national Mori volleyball team.

They are Darrius Ngarotata-Pauling, 16, and Daniel Smith, 15, both students in Year 11 at Napier Boys’ High School. Smith was selected for the New Zealand Mori Under 20 men’s team.

The choices were made at a camp held over the school holidays at Mount Maunganui. Smith currently works a part-time job in a restaurant kitchen in addition to fundraising efforts.

The Aotearoa Mori Poirewa teams, which include two female teams of the same age groups and who each train and play four games at the Federation of International Volleyball Centre in Bangkok from August 18 to 27, only have two members from Hawke’s Bay.

There are currently no other national sides in the two age groups, but the students each see the trip as part of a pathway to scholarships abroad and international futures, having all but now abandoned their previous sporting ambitions having, as Pauling says, “found” volleyball less than two years ago.

Smith represented Hawke’s Bay in age group basketball, and Ngarotata-Pauling had played rugby, including in a match for the school’s Under 15 team, which is typically the first step on the road to the first fifteen.

“I didn’t even know volleyball was a sport,” he said, but, getting a little “bored” with rugby, he took the chance, with Smith, when they saw a “notice” at school.

They quickly adapted to the small-court sport, where Smith claims that as players advance in the game, their height becomes more of an advantage. They are all roughly 1.85 meters tall.

With the men’s and women’s premier national sides scheduled to travel to Chile this year, the selections occur at a time when the pathway has opened up again after the Covid-19 years. One Olympic sport is volleyball.

The senior women’s team, the Volley Ferns, will fly into Chile on June 26 to begin a run of games that will end on July 7. The men’s team, the Volley Blacks, will then arrive in Chile on July 12 and play there for the remainder of the month.

On King’s Birthday weekend (June 3-5), the national interprovincial championships will take place in Taradale’s Pettigrew Green Arena, and zone and national leagues will follow later in the campaign.

The expansion of the facilities at the PGA and the Mitre 10 Sports Park in Hastings, along with the contribution of coach, national representative, Central Hauwhenua VNL-winning player, physiotherapist, and former Napier Girls High School student Laina Samia, have furthered the opening of the pathway in Hawke’s Bay.

A daughter of Hawke’s Bay and New Zealand volleyball guru and former NBHS physical education teacher Alani Samia, who died from abdominal cancer two years ago, she has been coaching the two teens since they started, and the selection is a “great opportunity for them to grow further”.

“They both have a massive drive to perform in volleyball, so playing in international fixtures will give them good insight into high-performance volleyball and future possibilities,” she said. “The boys are honored to have the opportunity to travel while representing their whanau for Aotearoa Mori Poirewa.”

Reference: www.nzherald.co.nz

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