FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championship

Press release

Zemljak making a difference in Slovenian beach volleyball

Nejc Zemljak is a young, talented, eclectic beach volleyball enthusiast, who has a passion for his favourite sport both on and off the court

Lorca, Spain, May 11, 2015 - Passion for sport often leads volleyball and beach volleyball enthusiasts to unexpected destinations. While many sport lovers may quiver at the idea of facing new challenges, Slovenia’s Nejc Zemljak embraces taking the road less traveled and juggling with different projects.

The beach volleyball ace represented his country in the 2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup tournament held last weekend in the Spanish city of Lorca. He alternates his career as a player with contributions to grassroots programmes, and leading under-age national beach volleyball teams in international competitions. He also acts as the head of the Slovenian Beach Volleyball Commission. Zemljak was also recently appointed Secretary General of the Middle European Volleyball Zonal Association (MEVZA).

“I think that I probably do more than I should, but it all comes down to improving the game. That’s my goal. The better beach volleyball is, the better my situation is - if I want to look at it from a personal perspective. You just have to take it all as your own project,” said the 27-year-old athlete, who started playing the sport at an early age at school. “I never thought that I could play to represent my country, but you kind of go along with things - and things just happen.”

It takes a special kind of personality and strength of character to manage these different responsibilities and accomplishments. However, Zemljak believes he has just been at the right place at the right time. “I don’t think I ever thought about it that far ahead; when the opportunity knocks, you just grab it. I do not consider myself a “beach volleyball professional” or anything like that, because we are not making real money or a living with it. It is more of a lifestyle. The key aspects required to have success [in beach volleyball] are, first, to have determination and thrive on it; then, it comes down to three things: technique, physical skills and mental strength. These three elements go hand in hand, but first you need to really want to do it, you need to hang on to it, even if things don’t go the way you expected.”

Slovenia, Austria, Sweden, France... and Hawaii
“Yes, I spent five years in Hawaii.” The setter got a scholarship to attend college in the United States, and the dream Pacific island seemed “the perfect place.” When asked if Hawaii is really as “cool” as it sounds,
Zemljak says: “Yes, of course it is. I was very fortunate because I joined the volleyball team and soon my teammates, staff, coaches became my family. It was like a second home to me.” After his Hawaiian experience, Zemljak lived in Austria, played beach volleyball in Sweden and joined a club in France where he spent two years, before returning home. He also started taking on other tasks.

“I coach kids and I help the national teams. It is fun to be around kids because for them it is just about playing, it’s just about the sport, not about money or anything like that. You demand the same things for yourself than you do for others. But when you are a coach, not everyone has the same motivation.”

Since, Zemljak has taken on other roles. “It started with me being chosen to be the players’ representative in my federation; after that, my president asked me if I wanted to be the head of the Beach Volleyball Commission in Slovenia and in December I became responsible for Beach Volleyball in our country. It’s been a learning experience. I take the beach volleyball decisions in Slovenia and we have a lot of projects and many goals ahead of us. I don’t know how many of them will see the light, but for sure we are going to try”.

Dreaming big
Succeeding in many different fields doesn’t come without thinking big. Just days before his participation in the third round of the CEV
Beach Volleyball Continental Cup in Lorca, Nejc Zemljak was appointed Secretary General of the Middle European Volleyball Zonal Association.

“My first goal [as Secretary General] is try to maximise the opportunities for players to get points given out in regional competitions; we need to organise MEVZA events, and we also need to take care of the young players. Most youth and junior players only have one important tournament per year, so the goal is to create more competitions for them too. In addition to this, it is important for us to find new groups of interest for beach volleyball.”

Regardless of his activities, love of the sport is at the heart of what
Nejc Zemljak does. “Whether it is coaches, referees, players, fans or else, we need to become the central point to develop volleyball and beach volleyball in our societies; it doesn’t matter if you play only once in your life, or if you play recreational volleyball, or if you become the next Olympian, we need to be there for you.”
Download highresolution


| More

More press releases

10.07.2016 21:26:42
Russian women delighted with ‘last chance’ ticket to Rio
Sochi, Russia, July 10, 2016 – On home turf, at the FIVB World Continental Cup in Sochi, Russia grabbed their last chance to qualify a women’s team fo... More...
10.07.2016 15:00:30
Canadian men claim Olympic ticket in Sochi
Sochi, Russia, July 10, 2016 – Josh Binstock, Sam Schachter, Grant O’Gorman and Sam Pedlow won a berth for the Rio Olympic Games for Canada on Sunday ... More...
10.07.2016 13:45:49
Czech women bound for Rio instead of holidays
Sochi, Russia, July 10, 2016 – The Czech Republic women claimed one of the two remaining Olympic tickets at the FIVB World Continental Cup on Sunday w... More...
09.07.2016 22:06:05
Russia and Czech Republic complete women’s final four in Sochi
Sochi, Russia, July 9, 2016 – Russia and the Czech Republic completed the women’s final four of the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification b... More...
09.07.2016 20:20:55
Russia and Venezuela one win away from Rio
Sochi, Russia, July 9, 2016 – Russia and Venezuela advanced to the all-deciding semi-finals of the FIVB World Continental Cup by defeating Mexico and ... More...
09.07.2016 13:41:36
Belgium and Canada top men’s pools in Sochi
Sochi, Russia, July 9, 2016 – The Belgian and Canadian men are one win away from the Rio Olympic Games. Both countries finished on top of their pool u... More...
08.07.2016 21:42:12
China and Austria pool winners in Sochi
Sochi, Russia, July 8, 2016 – China and Austria topped their pool on Friday at the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualifier and are one win away f... More...
08.07.2016 21:14:09
Ukraine’s Valentyna Davidova: the Olympics are like magic
Sochi, Russia, July 8, 2016 - Ukraine’s Valentyna Davidova and Ievgeniia Schchypkova are running on their last fumes, but together with team mates Inn... More...
08.07.2016 19:30:44
Canada and Russia all set for pool win decider
Sochi, Russia, July 8, 2016 – Canada and Russia will have a pool win ‘showdown’ on Saturday since both countries remained unbeaten on Friday at the FI... More...
08.07.2016 14:59:21
Mexican men step up to the plate and defeat Uruguay
Sochi, Russia, July 8, 2016 – Mexico took an important step on Friday towards the knockout rounds of the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualifier.... More...
07.07.2016 20:29:33
Russian men confident and in control at Olympic Qualifier in Sochi
Sochi, Russia, July 7, 2016 – Rio de Janeiro is coming closer and closer for Russia as the men booked another win on Thursday at the FIVB World Contin... More...
07.07.2016 19:15:47
Three would be a charm for China’s Chen Xue
Sochi, Russia, July 7, 2016 – With two straight wins on Thursday the Chinese women showed their strength at the FIVB World Continental Cup in Sochi. I... More...
06.07.2016 18:55:55
Canadians and Belgians dream of second chances in Sochi
Sochi, Russia, July 6, 2016 – It’s all about second chances and opportunities this week in Sochi. In the Russian Black Sea resort nineteen countries, ... More...
06.07.2016 18:13:15
Russia stirs up women’s teams in final attempt to make it to Rio
Sochi, Russia, July 6, 2016 – The pressure is on, this week at the FIVB World Continental Cup in Sochi. Especially for host country Russia. This is th... More...
06.07.2016 12:15:34
Four Olympic beach volleyball tickets up for grabs in Sochi
Sochi, Russia, July 6, 2016 – The stakes are high this week in Sochi, as nineteen countries seek Olympic qualification at the FIVB Beach Volleyball Wo... More...
13.06.2016 17:31:47
Germany name teams for Continental Cup showdown
Berlin, Germany, June 13, 2016 – Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik and Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif have been named as the two teams that will b... More...
07.04.2016 22:25:43
Continental Cup Finals dates confirmed
Lausanne, Switzerland, April 7, 2016 - The FIVB Board of Administration received a confirmation of the Olympic Beach Volleyball qualification process ... More...
24.03.2016 12:42:01
Countdown to Rio as Continental Cup resumes
Lausanne, Switzerland, March 24, 2016 – Five teams per gender will realise their Olympic dreams this year by qualifying for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Ol... More...
04.11.2015 11:07:56
Continental Cup back underway as Rio dream draws closer
Lausanne, Switzerland, November 4, 2015 – The FIVB Continental Cup will come back into focus over the next few months as each Confederation begins the... More...
07.10.2015 11:00:17
FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification tournament to take place in Russia
Lausanne, Switzerland, October 7, 2015 - The International Volleyball Federation is pleased to announce that the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qu... More...
19.06.2014 15:24:02
Continental Cup returns with renewed vigour
Lausanne, Switzerland, June 19, 2014 - FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° has played a key role in providing an expanded set of opportunities for the ... More...