NAMIBIA dominated the Youth & Junior Zone VI Beach Volleyball Qualification Tournament which took place at the DTS Club in Windhoek over the weekend.
Only Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Namibia managed to take part in the competition which resulted in all countries qualifying for the next round to be held next month, where the qualified countries from Zone V and Zone VII will join.
Three out of the four categories were won by Namibian teams, despite the fact that top Namibian junior player Julia Laggner was not able to take part with her partner Saskia Henkert after being stranded in Frankfurt due to a cancelled Air Namibia flight.
Namibia coach Achim Lueck had to change his plans and the U18 team of Maike Brandt and Mareike Talkenberg moved up to play in the U21 category, while a second youth team of Kim Seebach and Stephanie Palmhert, which was on standby, played in the youth category.
"Fortunately we have a great youth development programme and a backup of players," said Lueck.
In the absence of continental powerhouse South Africa, the junior boys Tin Hlupic and Gerard Fischer once again proved that they are the team to beat in Southern Africa.
"We were at the Youth World Championships last year and now we want to qualify for the Junior World Championship this year," said Hlupic after an impressive victory against the Zimbabwean team.
The president of the Namibian Volleyball Federation, Heiko Diehl, said it was a very successful tournament for Namibia.
"We won three out of four competitions, with our girls' youth and junior teams and our boys' junior team qualifying for the next round of African qualifiers. Our girls' youth and junior teams are still very young so they can go far, while our boys' youth team that came third showed a lot of potential," Diehl said.
The tournament was however tarnished by the non-appearance of South Africa. This took the competitive element away since all of the teams progressed to the next round of African qualifiers, where the top Zone 6 countries will play against the top Zone 5 and Zone 7 countries.
"It's not the first time that this has happened and its unfortunate because it would have provided better competition for the teams that did arrive. In the end we only had three countries participating which made it easier to qualify.
But those countries that make the effort to turn up will improve and get the benefit of playing at the World Championships in the long run," Diehl said.
The results are as follows:
Junior Boys (U21)
1. Tin Hlupic / Gerard Fischer (Nam)
2. Simbarash Kaseke / Arnold Mutubuki (Zim)
3. Xolani Mahlalela / Qiniso Mthethwa (Swz)
Junior Girls (U21)
1. Maike Brandt / Mareike Talkenberg (Nam)
2. Mathilda Dube / Charity Chikore (Zim)
3. Nunsikelelo Sithole / Tenele Dlamini (Swz)
Youth Boys (U18)
1. Elton Chiketa / Jonathan Mhandu (Zim)
2. Mangaliso Magagula / Mangaliso Zweli Magagula (Swz)
3. Jan Erik Sack / Roman von Ludwiger (Nam)
Youth Girls (U18)
1. Kim Seebach / Stephanie Palmhert (Nam)
2. Princess Moyo / Progress Gasa (Zim)