Duncan McKenzie has been pleased with what he's seen from Volleyball Southland's new premier league this season, but he's keen to see it grow even further.
McKenzie, whose involvement with the sport goes back more than 20 years, is Volleyball Southland's board chair and coaches two Southland Boys' High School teams in the Lone Star-sponsored premier league.
While he has been thrilled with the reintroduction of a top volleyball competition in the south, it is, he says, all part of a wider plan.
"It [the more competitive competition] is one of a number of areas the board targeted to raise the profile of volleyball in Southland and it's great to have that under way," he said.
"It's also good to have the schools' competition and our representative programme both running so strongly as well. The idea behind the premier league is that we already have a number of very good players, but we also wanted to encourage other good players out of the woodwork - the ones who might not have played for a while, or who have played at a social level and are looking for more of a competitive challenge. Next year, when we've got a home at the new stadium, we want to have an even stronger adult competition."
McKenzie coached volleyball at Southland Boys' High School for almost 10 years in the 1990s.
On taking up a role at SIT - where he is now sport and exercise programme manager, which includes overseeing the Bachelor of Sport and Exercise programme - he stepped back from his involvement with the sport but, when his children started playing at Southland Boys', he began coaching again.
The two Southland Boys' teams contesting the premier league this season have both excelled in Volleyball Southland's secondary schools' competition, placing first and second respectively in the top division.
The chance to play consistently at an even higher level has been good for the teams, McKenzie said.
"From a Volleyball Southland perspective it has been great, too. We've had a new board in place for a couple of years and it has big ambitions for the sport in Southland.
"We've made phenomenal steps in the past couple of years with great support from our key funders. We're trying to grow the sport regionally, not just in Invercargill but Southland-wide, in the likes of Queenstown, Gore, Winton, Riverton and Te Anau. The big thing for us is that there are pathways for all players, and this premier league is all a part of that."
The 2013 premier league will wrap up with finals on November 4 from 6.45pm.
The men's final will be between Pinas Hapak and Southern Stars and will be played at Aurora, while the Southern Stars and Stadium Southland teams will contest the women's final at James Hargest College.
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