A local beach volleyball representative is reaching for big dreams representing New Zealand at the Youth Commonwealth games this July.
Jasmine Milton, 17, from Ngunguru has always had a passion for volleyball stemming from her family’s love of the sport.
She has been selected to represent New Zealand in the under 19’s competition
Jasmine’s aunty Lenna Milton coached her through her early teens along with her younger brother Tana and cousins Teina and Hemi Rihari. The passionate youngsters competed at a national level throughout high school but it was a training camp in beach volleyball that motivated Jasmine to make the transition to the two-person sport.
“As soon as I touched the ball in the sand I loved it. I love the game of sand volley, the locations, the workload and the passion for the sport has just always been there,” Jasmine said.
Jasmine’s talent in the back court position has seen her represent Northland and North Harbour multiple times and she has travelled to Laos, Australia and America on various tours.
NZL U19 Commonwealth Games Qualification winners, Jasmine Milton & Ella Akkerman.
The journey to the Commonwealth Games has required a huge commitment, not only from Jasmine, but also her parents Tania Pepi and Justin Milton seeing Jasmine recently relocate to Auckland to study at Rangitoto College. Support for volleyball in Northland was limited and the family realised things needed to change for Jasmine to elevate to the next level of the sport.
“I’m in an area now where there is value placed on the sport and it’s different coming from an area where this sport was a minority. The culture here is awesome, and so many more people are involved. The competition and amount of volleyball I get to play down here is amazing. Back home there wasn’t enough teams who could put in time or placed enough value in the sport for regular competition and games,” Jasmine said.
A normal week will see Jasmine training six days a week after school and on the weekends with camps held in Tauranga every second weekend.
Jasmine said her long term goals are to travel to America on a university scholarship and to wear the silver fern internationally.
“I love being able to balance schooling in such a competitive environment also. I can’t ever see myself stop playing, not for a long time. I just really want to see where volleyball will take me.”
This year’s youth Commonwealth Games is being held in the Bahamas and will see up to 1300 athletes aged between 14-18 descend on the Caribbean nation competing for 94 medals across a range of sports. It will be the first year beach volleyball has entered the games.
Jasmines mother Tania said costs are sitting at around $8500 to cover the 10 day tournament and that figure does not include further finances required to assist with her coaching and support.
A fundraiser has been organised by Ngunguru locals with local band Headland Haze and other musicians playing at the Ngunguru sports complex from 6pm onwards this Saturday the 10th of June.
Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased either at the door or by contacting Tania Pepi on 021 216 3888.