Winning the AIMES Junior Excellence Award in 2018 and an AIMES Sports Scholarship in 2020 helped fuel a flying start in Ryan Jefferson’s chosen sports. Sports – plural – because the Torbay teen took off in trampolining before an injury prompted a reset. He switched to beach volleyball and hasn’t looked back; he is now representing New Zealand in the sport.
The former Glamorgan Primary and Northcross Intermediate schoolboy is now in Year 12 at Rangitoto College where he has developed his prowess for both the beach and indoor volleyball codes. In March, he brought home gold from the Australian Beach Volleyball Junior championships in Coolangatta. “This was my first overseas competition for volleyball, and it was one of the most memorable times of my life,” he says.
Late last month, Ryan was delighted to discover he had been selected to compete at the Asian U19 Beach Volleyball Championships, which will take place in Thailand in June. He was one of just four Kiwis to be chosen.
He says, “The goal that I have set for this year is to place in the top five in Thailand when I compete at the Asian Championships. If my partner and I place in the top five, then it means that we qualify to compete at the world championships in Turkey near the end of this year.”
Following that, Ryan intends to immerse himself in training and competition practice over the winter. “In July this year I am travelling to Switzerland with an NZ-based Swiss born player. We are going to compete in tournaments together and also attend a five-day training camp in Gstaad.”
From a young age, Ryan was hooked on sport, and credits his parents for their support and encouragement. “I fell in love with the competitiveness and fun that sport brings to life, but I never would have experienced this without the help of my family. My parents have always supported me in my extra-curricular activities, and they have helped influence my pathway into sport.
“I really appreciated winning the AIMES awards, as it helped my family and I to fund the opportunities that have been given to me. My advice to young Shore people considering applying is to give it a go, you never know what will happen.”
Playing an outdoor sport meant less lockdown-related restrictions than other sporting codes, so pandemic restrictions did little to hamper his progress. He says, “I was lucky enough to train for beach volleyball during the recent long Auckland lockdown. We took our net down to the beach almost everyday, which really improved my skills and kept my fitness up to a high level throughout.
“The amount of time that lockdown gave us helped me reflect and plan for future competitions and goals that I would like to achieve in the future. This was useful as, after lockdown ended, I was able to work on my goals and plans set during lockdown to help improve my volleyball career.”
And Ryan is already looking ahead to 2023. “A goal I have set for next year is to be picked to go to the Youth Commonwealth Games, which is in Trinidad and Tobago. This would be another awesome experience to compete in this big competition.”
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