Norway. One of the world’s most Northern countries with 385,207 square kilometres boasting fjords, ski resorts, rolling forests and majestic mountain tops. They hold more medals from the Winter Olympic Games than any other country in the world. All of which makes sense of course; it is, after all, rather cold in Norway. Except for one thing. They also take beach volleyball very seriously.
ToppVolley Norway is a purpose built, $4M volleyball academy and school with 75 live-in students and both indoor and outdoor beach volleyball facilities. And in a country that takes the sport that seriously, you are going to find homegrown teams such as the BeachVolley Vikings, who come with a team mascot.
And, as the internet discovered earlier this week (114k views on their Instagram page and rising), the BeachVolley Vikings’ mascot is a three year old Flatcoat Retriever, Black Labrador cross called Kiara who is a dab hand at setting the ball up for a return (called the Dig, for you beach volleyball fans out there).
But what, exactly, is going on in the video and more importantly, why?
🎥 Mathias Berntsen
“What’s happening is that Kiara is playing a 2v2 exhibition game”, explains BeachVolleyViking player Mathias Berntsen when The Sportsman caught up with him from his home town of Åmli (population 18,000). “She’s playing with me and we are up against my sister Frida Berntsen and her friend Emilie Olimstad.”
And how did you discover Kiara’a unique ball skills?
“We discovered at a very early age that Kiara was super interested in playing with the ball. When we threw it into the woods she would run and get it and bring it back to us a million times and it was like that with everything, from a stick to a tennis ball, then a frisbee.”
Does it take a lot of training to teach a dog to play volleyball?
“No. We didn’t train her in any specific way, she just figured it out on her own when we went to the soccer field. Wherever there’s ball she wants to join in, it is almost impossible to keep her away!”
Is Kiara a one off, or do you have a plethora of pets with unique skills?
“I do not have any other pets with such excellent sporting abilities, but we are getting a new puppy this summer so let’s see if we can make her a team mate for Kiara.”
Be honest, did you expect this much attention from your video?
“I did not. I just wanted to make a fun video for everyone out there, in these difficult quarantine times. I’m super stoked and so glad people liked the video, it means a lot!”
You can find Kiara’s Instagram page here.