Plan de Corones/Kronplatz, Italy, April 4, 2019 – They come from different backgrounds within the world of volleyball, but the one thing that unites all four of them is that they make up the first ever snow volleyball national team of South Africa (in either gender). Lebogand Malahela, Reyanka Kisten, Anneta Frederiksen and Bejanke Della are part of the first two events on the inaugural 2019 FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour, co-organized with the CEV, and are putting their names on the history pages of this new winter sport not only as the first South African snow volleyballers, but also as the first women’s team from any African country playing the discipline.
“I got a call from our Head of Beach Volleyball to say ‘Congratulations! You made it to the snow volleyball team of South Africa’, which obviously was a huge and exciting surprise. So this is how our journey began...” Anneta Frederiksen started the story.
Caroline, Reyanka, Anneta and Vejanke enjoying the breath-taking Alpine views
Coming from a country with practically no snow, these athletes gave snow volleyball a try for the first time in their lives. They struggled a bit at the beginning, but they have been on a steep learning curve afterwards.
“With every training session, with every game we had, we learned a lot from other teams. The Austrian coach we had last week in Wagrain-Kleinarl really helped us a lot as well. That improved our game and for this week we are hoping to do better and maybe win a game or so. So good luck to us!” Bejanke Della said. “With three persons on the court, at first it was a struggle to see who is going to be where on the court, but we figured it out. We also looked at how some of the more experienced teams are playing, so now we are doing much better.”
“We haven’t set any expectations per se for the second tournament, but we as a team agreed that we are going to try to do better than last week. It’s a new thing for us, so we are not going to be too hard on ourselves, but it would be nice if we can play up until Sunday,” added Lebogang Malahela, also known as Caroline.
South Africa celebrating a set win against Sweden
At the first tournament in Wagrain-Kleinarl, the South Africans played well, but lost all three of their matches. Still, they are quite excited about winning one set against Sweden and take it as a good start.
“The event in Austria was a great experience for us. It was a very well organized tournament. From the training we had prior to the tournament throughout the actual tournament, there was a great atmosphere, and even though we did not win any of our games, we managed to take one set and we enjoyed it a lot,” Reyanka Kisten commented. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us that the FIVB and the CEV did invite us to the first World Tour. Now we are at the forefront and if South Africa keeps sending teams to tournaments and we keep training and improving, I think snow volleyball can be taken as a serious sport in our country.”
“Being part of this from its beginning creates an opportunity for us to grow with the sport,” said Frederiksen.
Smiling while playing
With players from all five continents, all kinds of calibers and all kinds of backgrounds getting together for the tournaments in Austria and Italy, they created a positive, friendly and sportsmanship atmosphere, both on and off the snow courts, and the girls from South Africa are really enjoying it.
“What I’ve realized at these tournaments is that even great players, such as Giba and Marcio Araujo, are still humble in their own way. While they have a lot to offer, we don’t feel intimidated by their presence. We feel like we are all together, chatting and getting along. What’s really been fine about snow volleyball is that the atmosphere is one of friendship,” Frederiksen pointed out. “Before a game we’ll even take pictures together with our opponents, which doesn’t always happen when you play indoor or beach. Even the legends have just been themselves and we’ve been able to laugh and enjoy the experience. Giba was at one of our first training sessions and he was just a normal guy – training with us, laughing with us, celebrating with us... So for us the atmosphere is really the most amazing thing about snow volleyball.”
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