Southland's men's and women's representative volleyball teams will take their first steps towards the national division two club championships this weekend, when they play in the Southern Zone qualifying tournament in Dunedin.
For what is thought to be the first time, Southland will enter men's and women's teams in the national championships when they take place in Tauranga in August.
This weekend's qualifying tournament will also act as seeding for nationals.
Volleyball Southland regional development manager Donna Milne said the players and management had been preparing for months and were looking forward to posting some good results.
''As far as I know Southland has never sent a team to the division two club nationals, so while it's a bit of a learning curve for all of us, it's also a fantastic opportunity and one the players and coaches have really embraced,'' she said.
''The teams have been training hard for the past four months and will be looking to put that into practice on Saturday[tomorrow] in a tournament environment.'' The Southland men's team will be boosted by the likes of Juliano Baby Amorim, who has played professionally in Brazil, while the women's team, too, features a former professional player in Anastasia Shtampf.
Shtampf is currently at the Australian junior championships in Canberra where she is assistant coach and manager for the South Island u17 girls' team and is unavailable for tomorrow's tournament, but Milne expected her to play a significant team role at the Division Two Nationals.
Southland will also send a women's B team and an u19 boys' team to this weekend's Dunedin tournament as the organisation seeks to develop more up-and-coming talent.
Southland U19 Men: Michael Lee, Thomas Adams, Zac Barnes, Strath McKenzie, Lachlan McKenzie, Brynn Murphy, Simon Cook, George Lodge; Coach: Duncan McKenzie, Manager: Donna Milne
Southland Men: Juliano Baby Amorim, Semi Cakaunitavuki Ratuniyauravu, Rodrigo Octavio Rinaldi de Camargo, Troy Paulin, Nic Reed, Teunis Cornelis Plomp, Halue Tulafono, Matt Bray; Coach: Alexandro Marian
Southland B Women: Erin Hughes (captain) , Brianna Nally, Maddie O'Conner (assistant captain) , Aileen Isamaeli, Rachel Beck, Faaoo Lale, Grace Kiore, Kristina Moatanna, Ayako Fukutake, Lilian Mariano; Coach: Jorgelina Leiva, Manager: Donna Milne
Southland A Women: Caroline Raynes (assistant captain) , Aimee Cockburn, Mel Jones, Abby Kerr, Alyssa Johnstone, Jorgelina Leiva, Tomoka Ripley, Claudia Hutton; Coach: Alexandro Mariano, Manager: Donna Milne
- The Southland Times