Teen chosen for development team

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Being offered a place on the New Zealand league junior men’s development volleyball team was such a surprise for Jackson Banks, he had to take a moment to let it sink in.

When the email arrived in his inbox he first thought it was “some sort of scam”.

But after checking with his father, Jackson was delighted to confirm it was real.

He will join about 15 to 20 handpicked players from across New Zealand at a week-long training camp in Canberra, Australia.

Jackson began playing volleyball about two and a-half years ago when he and a few of his friends saw there was a tournament coming up in Wanaka.

“So we thought OK, we will rustle up a team”.

They enjoyed taking part in the tournament and continued with the sport, he said.

It was the “ultimate team sport”, Jackson said.

“You have to have a very good connection to be able to play well.”

Usually when he played for the Dunstan High School team he was “the middle blocker, which is the big tall guy in the middle”.

This was mainly a team-orientated position, focusing on stopping the opponents. “You might occasionally get a chance to have an attack of your own.”

The development camp would “hone skills in a lot of different areas”, he said.

One of the challenges would be that Jackson didn’t know others who had been selected for the development camp, with a lot more volleyball in New Zealand taking place in Christchurch.

“Alexandra in terms of volleyball at the moment is me and my mates.”

It was a very dedicated group – “I’m actually very grateful for that”.

Volleyball had less of a profile locally than some other towns, but he hoped his selection would help change that.

He had a “very strong passion” for volleyball and being selected for the development team had boosted future aims for Jackson.

Although still very humble, he was looking forward to seeing what might develop in the future.

“I would be lying if I said I never thought about aiming to play for New Zealand.”

The training camp runs from October 6 to 12 and the family was fundraising to help with the costs of the trip.

To donate to help Jackson email steelbanks@slingshot.co.nz