Young volleyball duo possess winning mentality

By Cameron Leslie

BEING a sports reporter, you are able to come across more positive stories which leave you feeling excited about the future of sport in our region.

It is a goal of mine as the Northern Advocate's sports editor to have one profile on a local athlete, or team, per week. And this week's profile has really left an impression on me.

During my time as an athlete I hope I was able to excite at least a few people about the future of sport in our region. Beach volleyballers Kane Turketo and Shane Witehira have certainly done that for me.

I interviewed them last Friday and found them incredibly well-spoken and humble for a pair of 16-year-olds.

It is both a curse and a blessing that, generally speaking, in local sports reporting you're interviewing younger Northlanders, who, like it or not, hardly say boo. However, self-promotion is one of the hardest and uncomfortable aspects to being a sportsperson.

Turketo and Witehira on the other hand were quietly confident yet realistic.

Often young sportspeople have a tendency to excel in the youth and age grades and then fizzle out later when their chosen sport starts to get serious.

Whether it is a mentality-based flaw which sees some quit because they feel they have achieved all they can when really they're just beginning, I don't know.

These two Tikipunga High School beach volleyballers have achieved internationally in the age divisions, after winning bronze late last year in an Oceania Zone tournament in Hawaii. Yet Turketo and Witehira said in their own words that it was just the beginning. This coming from a pair who know they're being looked at by national selectors.

I felt this sort of mentality was incredibly reassuring and exciting. Reassuring because Turketo and Witehira don't receive any funding, except for the odd parent here and there helping out and they continue to travel all over the North Island to compete.

Exciting because I actually believed them, thanks largely to their understanding of the hard work which is needed to go further.

At the end of Wednesday's profile on these two, I asked for people to come forward if they wanted to make a contribution or sponsor them. I challenge a Northland business to get behind these boys, even if it's just product, and join them on their journey.

Take it from me, having a company get behind you when you're young helps your confidence when you come up against others who're sponsored fully. For me it was Sudburys. Who will it be for Shane and Kane?

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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