Player Profile

Name: Leo Williams
DOB: 09 May 1985
Height: 1,99 m
Weight: 95 kg
Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa
Language: English, Afrikaans

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Career Highlights

  • 1st Position South African Tour 2012 to present
  • 1st Position African Tour 2011/2012
  • Bronze Medal All Africa Games 2015
  • 2nd Position African Championships 2015 & 2017
  • 9th Position FIVB open in Mangaung, South Africa 2014
  • World Championships, Netherlands 2015 & Austria 2017
  • 5th Position World Cup in Campinas, Brazil 2013

Favorite quote: “If you want to be the best, you have to be obsessed”

Beach Volleyball Background 

In 2009 I started playing competitive beach volleyball and had a quick rise to success by partnering with some of the most talented players the game had to offer in South Africa. I was very lucky to be part of a beach volleyball program that had the goal to qualify for the 2016 London Olympics. It was in this period that my passion for the sport was developed and nurtured as we traveled the world, gaining vital international experience and exposure.

I made my international debut in 2010 and haven’t looked back ever since. I am now one of the most experienced players in South Africa and Africa, being the most capped African player. That is not to say that I am the most talented player in the continent, I believe that talent does not substitute hard work. Thus I work hard to be among the best, leaving nothing to chance and no stone unturned on the training court.

By believing in my dream, I did what crazy people do. I quit my job, sold my house and decided to follow my passion: I am now a full time player, traveling all continents year-round on the FIVB World Tour and other national tours in European countries. One of my first successful international tournaments was in the Czech Republic, which is also now my home-base while in Europe. I have also competed in national tours in Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland and America. Next year I will dip my toes into the Australian and Brazilian national tours to get a full global experience.

Taking the opportunity to play full-time does not only cost a lot of money, but I also had to give up building my career. But I am a firm believer of the saying: “Do what you love and you won’t work a day in your life.” Support in our sport is very slim and competition on our continent is very scarce, I thus decided to take it upon myself to represent our country and continent at the highest level with the aim of changing the perception of Africa in the world and changing Africa’s perception of the world. The only way to do this is by proving that we can compete -and win at any level. I hope this will inspire many of our youth to pursue their dreams of international participation some day.

For now A Luta Continua!

 

2018 new challenges

This year brought a new set of challenges as my usual partner Grant Goldschmidt got married, bought a house, and needed to focus more on income producing activities i.e. work. Due to the financial demands our sport places on us when playing on the world stage, and mounting pressure at work, Grant chose to take a break from beach volleyball. I decided to tour with different players from South Africa – young and old – that I thought had potential to play internationally.

I tried a few events with older more experienced players like ex-Olympian Freedom Chiya and veteran Dominic Goliath, who are both played consistent and strong players. With a few more training sessions, I am sure we could have had some big results. I also tried partnering with a few with younger players who have a lot of experience. Shaien Govender and Alistair Glossop put in every effort to play  their best and our chemistry was evident on and off court as we got on very well as best of friends. I tried one of the youth players, Mthokozisi Mndingi, who surprised many players locally and internationally with his tenacious attitude and resilience even when all seemed lost. This guy is a huge future talent. My next partner will be Jamaine Naidoo for two events in Europe. Having played last year’s World Championships together in Vienna, I am confident that we will make a strong team. I am looking forward to seeing what these events will bring.

A few other players I would like to team up with are Keifer Govender, Jonas Ofentse, Devin O’Regan and Nathaniel Rafapa to name a few. It would be wonderful if our federation starts a program like the one we had many years ago, to develop the skills of such talented individuals, so they can benefit the way I have and will go on to represent our country, probably better than I can 🙂

Having attended many international events, I think that the ladies section is where South Africa can make the fastest advancements on the FIVB World Tour, especially on the 1-star events. Our ladies have what it takes and I really hope that more teams decide to participate internationally.

Goals and Objectives 2019 – 2020

  • Competing and winning all national events hosted in South Africa from 2019 to 2020
  • To retain the number one spot in South Africa and regaining the top spot in Africa
  • Competing in all possible national tours and satellite events in Europe, America & Brazil.
  • Competing in 12 FIVB international events in 2019 (Goal to achieve top 24 ranking)
  • Qualifying and winning All Africa Games 2019
  • Competing in all FIVB level events in 2020 (Goal to achieve top 16 ranking)
  • Project 2020, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – qualifying and placing in the top 10

Beyond 2020 it is my goal to get as many possible South Africans and Africans out there competing on the international stage, as I believe it is the only way we will ever be able to compete on the world stage. As Denzel Washington said, “Each one, teach one.”

 

*** Thank you, Leo, for sharing your passion with We Love Volleyball. We wish you all the best in your volleyball endeavours!
Do you know of other South African Volleyball legends that would like to feature on We Love Volleyball’s “Mzansi Stars” – please contact us on welovevolleyballza@gmail.com so that we can add more player profiles.