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Volleyball’s secondary school popularity spike

Volleyball New Zealand is celebrating a spike in the popularity of the sport among secondary school students. 

Playing numbers among Kiwi secondary school pupils has ‘grown exponentially over the past year’, according to the sport’s national body.  It is now officially the fourth most popular sport in the country, with the latest School Sport NZ Census data showing more than 22,000 young people are playing at secondary school level.

The figures released last week show a massive 26% growth in playing numbers over the past year. Somehow volleyball is managing to buck the trend of declining participation numbers being seen across many traditional team sports.

Volleyball New Zealand Chief Executive Toni-Maree Carnie said, “Volleyball provides a dynamic yet non-contact sport, where celebrating is a part of play and both genders play together and are treated equally. It could be considered the ultimate team game, as each player is always in the action.

“Volleyball NZ is thrilled with the increase in participation numbers as we know access and visibility of the sport remain barriers to more young people participating. We continue to work hard to ensure there are more opportunities for those young people still wanting to participate in volleyball to be able to play.”

There are now 22,141 secondary school students registered as playing volleyball in New Zealand, with girls outstripping the boys by over 6,0000 participants. In total, 14,081 girls are playing the sport, compared to 8,086 boys. 

Carnie said, “We know young women are coming to the sport in droves, we know they love having fun, playing with their friends and being in an environment that is not weather dependent.”

Upcoming national secondary school competitions currently hang in the balance, with the country holding its breath regarding ongoing COVID-19 lockdown levels.

Secondary school national competition dates for 2021, lockdown levels allowing, are: 

NZ Secondary School Indoor Championships, March 22-26, Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North

NZ North Island Junior Champs 22-25 November in Auckland.

NZ South Island Junior Champs 22-24 November in Nelson.

National Junior Beach Volleyball championships will be held immediately after the indoor competitions in November – North Island 26th and South Island 25th.

Full details of the School Sport NZ 2020 census can be found here: 

School Sport New Zealand – School Sport NZ Census Reports (sporty.co.nz)

Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.
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