Sport: Vanuatu Volleyball's new coach targets Rio 2016
The new head coach for Vanuatu Volleyball talks about the challenges ahead and his aims looking ahead to the Rio Olympics.
Vanuatu's new beach volleyball coach says earning a place at the Rio Olympics is very much on the cards.
New Zealander Jason Lochhead, who replaces Lauren McLeod, spent close to a decade competing on the men's world tour and told Vinnie Wylie the chance to help take Vanuatu to the next level was too good an opportunity to miss.
JASON LOCHHEAD: When I was playing on the world tour I actually saw them play out there at the same time so I got a little bit of a view of them and saw how they played and how strong they were.
VINNIE WYLIE: In terms of a coaching background have you done much here in New Zealand or elsewhere, or is this just a good opportunity that came along at the right time?
JL: I've done a bit in New Zealand. I helped a lot back in the day with the younger boys and just kids around - we used to do the SunSmart programme and go around to all the schools and coach a lot of kids doing that and then last year I coached the elite developmental USA men's teams, all last year, so got a bit of a background in coaching and then this opportunity came along and I thought it's be really cool and a lot of fun to give it a go.
VW: So that encompasses obviously the senior girls who have done so well but also you're there with the youngsters who are trying to get through to that Youth Olympic Games as well so you kind of cover all bases.
JL: Yeah you get to have a go with the top-level girls and also try and develop the boys and women as much as we can and help the country as much as I can.
VW: Especially with the women, it's been a programme that's punched above its weight in so many levels. They don't have the funding a lot do but the share of ninth at the World Championships, getting so close to London (Olympics) and some impressive performances on the World Tour - what do you sort of make of the challenge in front of you?
JL: Definitely a challenge but the girls are very strong and very committed and we've got two teams that I think can go very far so I'm hoping to help them get all the way to Rio and I think it's definitely possible.
VW: How do you think your style or your sort of coaching will aid them? Obviously they've had Lauren (McLeod) for a number of years with her background in Australia - what do you think you bring to them?
JL: I think I bring a bit of a different style. Obviously I'm a very short player so I like to play the game a lot different than most people and just the vision and tactical play of the defence with a lot more movement I think is going to help their game and step it up to the next level.
VW: You're over there in Thailand for first and foremost the Youth Olympics with the youngsters and then the girls back on the World Tour. What are you hoping to achieve over the next week or so?
JL: Hopefully I don't really know what the competition is like for the Youth Olympics but hopefully we can get the boys in which will be a huge start for the boys programme. Then for the girls the first two are Asian event tours and we will definitely be trying to win those and then two world tour events and top tens will be our aim for that.
VW: How important is doing well in those events in terms of rankings and funding opportunities?
JL: This year is huge. We need good results so we can get our seeding up as high as possible, so come in next year and Olympic qualifying, we don't have to start from scratch and build our way up - we're already up there and we can get those big points straight off the bat.
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