by Greta Yeoman
A trio of Timaru fistball competitors are off to represent New Zealand in Switzerland next month.
Jesse Kempf, Jaydon Phillips and Samuel Kempf will compete in the Fistball Men’s World Championships in early August.
They are part of the 10-strong New Zealand team heading to the championships, joining other players from Blenheim, Wellington and Christchurch.
Samuel, who is Jesse’s brother, first took up the sport a few years ago, before encouraging Jaydon and Jesse into it last year.
The trio had all played volleyball together during their time at Timaru Boys’ High School.
They were then selected for the New Zealand team by New Zealand Fistball Association founder Blase Dowall.
Because there is not a team in Timaru, the trio have travelled to Christchurch once, or sometimes twice, a week to train, Jesse said.
Samuel was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the Oceania Fistball Championships, held in Rangiora, in May this year.
The New Zealand team beat Samoa in the final, securing its place in the world championships.
Jesse said the New Zealanders were hopeful, but unsure about their chances at the world championships, as it will be the first time New Zealand has sent a team.
If they can get in to the top eight, the New Zealanders will be off to the World Games in America in 2021, he said.
“We’ve got high expectations on ourselves, but really we don’t know what we’re going to be up against.”
There are 18 teams from a variety of countries registered in the international event, including Argentina, United States, Brazil, Namibia, Serbia, Japan, Kenya and Poland.
The volleyball-like sport involves two teams of five players, competing on two half-fields, split by a net.
However, unlike volleyball where open hands are allowed, players must get the ball across the net into the other team’s half only using their arm or a closed fist.
Players are also allowed to have the ball bounce before contact, unlike volleyball, where no bouncing is allowed.
The Timaru trio head overseas on August 1 for a week of training in Germany, before the Swiss competition, which starts on August 10.
They will then do some travelling around Europe following the tournament.