One players pain can be another’s gain, as New Zealand volleyball rep Harry Coltman recently discovered.
The 16-year-old has just returned from Iran with the New Zealand junior men’s volleyball team after the withdrawal of another squad member prompted his late call-up.
Initially selected as a non-travelling reserve, the Nelson College student was rapt to get his ticket.
“I was pretty stoked, another player pulled out and they had no libero, so they called me in,” Harry says.
A libero acts as a defensive specialist, positioned at the back of the court, tasked with tidying stray shots and deep serves.
New Zealand played four games in Iran, against Kazakhstan, Oman and Pakistan twice.
Harry says despite results not going the Kiwis’ way, the side performed well.
“We got better, and the games got closer as the tournament went on.”
New Zealand finished the tournament 14th out of the 18 teams.
Harry says he took plenty of lessons from his first taste of international competition.
“I learnt a lot watching the liberos and how they go about things.”
The skill and anticipation of the Asian teams showed Harry a standard he now aspires to reach.
“Watching Iran vs (eventual winners) Japan was awesome, the atmosphere was amazing.”
Harry says the Middle East was a bit of a culture shock.
“It was very different, they are very strong on religion, and even though it was really hot everyone wore long shirts and pants.”
Harry says his focus will now shift to his Nelson College team as they prepare for Nationals in term one of next year.
“I just want to help us finish as high as possible, we came 13th this year so will look to do better than that.”
The young libero hopes to continue his rapid rise to the U20 side with the goal of one day taking the court for the New Zealand team.
“I want to work on my serve reception and just try to be as dominant in the back court as possible.”