Volleyroos star Nemo poised to return to the Australian men’s indoor volleyball team for the Asian Championships and the Olympic qualifiers
Nehemiah Mote was on a flight from Zurich to Hong Kong when his partner gave birth to their second son, midway through Australia’s Volleyball Nations
Such is the life of a professional volleyball player that the sacrifices include missing the birth of children and being on the road for long periods of time, coupled with the physical strain associated with professional sport.
Nemo says it’s made easier though, through the supportive environment of the Volleyroos who are preparing for the first stage of the Olympic qualification campaign in Bari when they take on Italy, Serbia and Cameroon. The winner will make it through to Tokyo 2020.
Ten of the 14 players who were part of the 2016 Olympic qualification campaign, where Australia fell one team short of making it through to Rio, have returned to the Centre of Excellence preparing for the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics.
“It’s always good to be back among the group. It’s a great bunch of guys. Although being away from family and obviously being away from my partner and my two sons is difficult to cope with, it’s made easier with the type of group that we have,” says Nemo.
Nemo has been battling shoulder and knee injuries and as he takes part in limited training sessions with the team with optimism that he will be part of the qualification campaign. He is still, however, coming to terms with the personal events of the past month.
“I was actually on the flight from Zurich to Hong Kong when my partner back in Australia gave birth. Before the flight I video-called my partner, Tamara. She was in hospital as there was a very high chance of her giving birth,” Recalls Nemo, “As I landed in Hong Kong I got a flood of photos and messages from her. I was very uneasy before the flight but then once I saw the photos, all the worry and stress disappeared.”
With Tamara and baby son, Keanu, now home in Melbourne, Nemo says he is grateful being able to combine his sporting career with family life; “To be able to represent Australia and also start a family and live two lives, to be a father and be able to be a professional athlete, it’s the ideal lifestyle.”
To the task at hand, and Nemo, who was part of the 2016 campaign, says this current group has a very good chance of qualifying. “It’s a different looking team, some new guys and some senior players back in the fold,” and Nemo says, “It’s key for the young players to learn from the senior players. You just can’t teach experience.”
That combination of youth and experience should hold the Volleyroos in good stead in the lead up to the opening round of qualifiers in Italy, followed by the second chance through Asia.