One of Australia’s most capped men’s volleyball players, Nathan Roberts has announced his retirement from the national team.
Nathan, better known in the volleyball community as Frank, had the ability to change the course of a match, attacking with his fast arm swing. This impressive ability was on display at the 2012 Olympics when he scored 18 points in Australia’s memorable 3-1 victory over Poland.
He played 386 games for Australia including 12 as captain.
Nathan represented Australia at the 2010 and 2014 World Championships, the 2007 World Cup, the 2014/2015/2016/2017 World League, the 2018 Volleyball Nations League and five Asian Championships.
He says, in the end, his body made the decision for him, “It was an extremely tough decision. But ultimately, although the mind is willing, physically I am not able to stand the rigours of international volleyball anymore.”
Nathan lists his highlights as his first match for Australia in 2005, the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament, and the Olympic Games in London, the Asian Championships gold medal in 2007, and being able to play the World League in front of family and friends.
“I would not have been able to have achieved what I have in my career without the help of a lot of people. All of the coaches I have had from my junior days up until the senior team have all played an important part in my career. I am forever thankful to Russell Borgeaud who saw enough in me to select me in my first senior team. Even now I can remember my first time on the court, my first attack and my first point in a senior team jersey, like it was yesterday”
Nathan says there have been many individuals behind the scenes who made it possible for him to compete. He says, ”I would like to thank the administration of Volleyball Australia who often go unheralded. I would like to thank my fans all around Australia and the world, knowing there was always this support reinforcing the motivation to give it everything when I was out there on the court. Of course I have to thank all my teammates over the journey. I consider them all like brothers to me, and I only wish that you enjoyed playing with me as much as I did with you.”
Nathan says he is now looking to spend more time with his family who have made plenty of sacrifices so that he could play. He says to them, “You have ridden the roller coaster with me all these years. You have been there through the tough times and the good times. Words can’t describe how incredible and understanding you have been over the journey.”
Volleyball Australia president, Craig Carracher, says Nathan’s contribution to the sport can’t be underestimated, “It will be sad and strange to see the Volleyroos competing without Nathan in the team. He has been a loyal member of the team for so long. He has been a magnificent contributor with his accurate serving, his unique style, mimicked throughout Australia, his passing and powerful hitting, helping our team in many world tournaments, most memorably at the London Olympics, and his man of the series performance in the 2016 World League.”
Craig Carracher says Nathan’s leadership skills will be missed, “He has been the glue in the team for many seasons, and he has captained the team with distinction. We will miss his volleyball skills and the enthusiasm he brought to the team and the game at all times on and off the court. I am sure we will see him continue to contribute to the sport for years to come. A true gentleman, an outstanding leader, and an inspiration to generations of athletes to come.”
Volleyroos Head Coach Mark Lebedew said it was an honour to coach Nathan. “Nathan Roberts will go down in history as one of the players who best epitomised the Volleyroos Way, always prepared to go head to head to head with the best in the world, always competitive, always a great teammate. Apart from his obvious skills at volleyball, Nathan was overcame many disappoints throughout his career and his tenacity and passion for the Volleyroos are an example for every aspiring player. It was my privilege to have been his coach.”
It’s fair to say Nathan Roberts has had an incredible influence on the sport of volleyball, not just in Australia, but also throughout the world.