PRESS RELEASE 20.11.2004


All Aboard! Beach Volleyball
Launching of the season on an inflatable beach volleyball court aboard HMAS Tobruk in Sydney Harbour

Sydney, Australia, November 20, 2004 - Australia's best Beach Volleyballers have launched the 2004-05 Vodafone Beach Volleyball Tour season in spectacular style by playing on an inflatable beach volleyball court aboard HMAS Tobruk in Sydney Harbour on 16 November 2004.

Launching the Tour on board Tobruk is considered a fitting tribute to the courageous efforts of our Olympic beach volleyball players at the Athens Games. Natalie Cook's gallant effort of playing on in the semi final despite a serious shoulder injury has gone down in history and typified her fighting spirit.

Cook will be onboard HMAS Tobruk to unveil the number of changes to the 2004/05-summer season; most notably the new naming rights sponsor Vodafone, gold sponsor Nivea and a new competition structure.

"This coming Tour will be the greatest one yet. Internationally Beach Volleyball has developed as one of the best spectator summer sports; now with the support of Vodafone, we can hope for the same thing within Australia," Cook said today.

The capacity crowds of the beach volleyball events at the often spectator-less Athens Games is an example of the how the sport has developed into one of the world's top spectator summer sports. One of Vodafone's aims is to work with the sport to attract a similar support base within Australia.

General Manager, Australian Volleyball Federation, Andrew Scotford has worked closely with Tour Promoters STW Sport and Events to incorporate the following changes to the 2004/05 season to bring it more in line with the World Tour events:

Format: This season will now operate from a 32-team draw, which is the format used in the FIVB World Tour. The competition format will be double elimination followed by semis and finals.

International Teams: One of the precursors to changing to the 32-team draw was to allow more International teams to compete in the Tour. This season allows for a maximum of 16 international players, double last season's limit of 8.

Live Results: Despite the beachside location, live results will be uploaded onto the website, allowing for media and supporters to monitor all the action as it happens.

Locations: To increase the Tour's reach, the competition will travel to Glenelg and Newcastle. As a plan to make the Tour truly national, a pilot event will be held at Cottesloe Beach in Perth.

"Having a huge multi-national sponsor in Vodafone on board will really take the Tour to the next level, incorporating the format changes will assist with making such a transition a reality," Scotford said today.

Olympic Gold Medallist Kerri Pottharst is eagerly anticipating playing with US Rookie of the Year, Angie Akers in the coming season, "The new rule allowing more international players has allowed us the opportunity to invite top overseas stars to join our Tour"

"Opening up the Tour to a larger pool of internationals will expose our younger players to a greater level of competition which will only help in developing the talent for our future," Pottharst said today.

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