University of the Western Cape (UWC) beach volleyballers Tamlyn Thomas and Manana Mosia will be among only five teams to represent Africa at the2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships in Nanjing, China from 11 to 16 July 2017.
The pair earned the honour after they finished third at the African continental qualifiers in Egypt a few weeks ago, becoming the first junior South African team to qualify for the world volleyball championships.
“It feels good to be the first junior pair to qualify for this competition in South Africa,” notes Thomas.
“The plan was to qualify even if we had not come out third, but we told ourselves that we wanted to qualify and that is why we worked so hard,” Mosia adds.
Thomas is a first-year BA student at UWC, while Mosia is doing matric at theWestern Cape Sport School - but both are playing for the UWC team under the guidance of coach Elmien Cloete, whom they have credited for their success.
The two had secured their places at the qualifiers after they came out second at the Zone VI Junior Beach Volleyball Championships in Mozambique earlier in the year.
While the UWC team has done well in beach volleyball in local competitions, the duo found the going getting tough on the continental stage. “The level of competition was very high there compared to what we are used to in South Africa,” Thomas recalls.
Mosia echoes her sentiments, adding: “It seems as if people out there are doing things different to what we are in South Africa, especially at the grassroots levels, because the way they play from an early age already is very good.”
The success of the duo in Africa has come with some high expectations from opposition teams back home. When they returned they played an U21 tournament in Port Elizabeth, and could feel the pressure - and rose to the occasion.
“We could not allow ourselves to lose after Egypt,” Thomas reflects, “or people might have questioned us and wondered where we went wrong - seeing that we are number three on the continent.”
The pair enjoyed more than just top-notch volleyball at the qualifiers: they enjoyed going up the pyramids, riding horses and camels, and more - but the language was a bit of a challenge, they note.
Having participated in such a top competition, the pair is keen to share the amazing experience with their peers and up-and-coming beach volleyball stars.