Volley of high praise

The volleyball buzz around the region is still strong after Cayman staged a world class event here last weekend.

Public Beach was heaving for the finals on Sunday and the vibe created is sweeping around the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation Beach Circuit.

It was the first leg on the road to qualifying for the London Olympics in 2012. USA-1 got maximum points in beating Cuba in the men’s final and the Amazonian-like Cubans thrashed the Mexican women.

Cayman’s Olney ‘OT’ Thompson and Shervin Rankin were top university players in the US but that was years ago. They came eighth here and must improve significantly to have any chance of a London berth.

So too the women’s team of Jennifer Bily and Wanda Brenton who came fifth.

Noel Williams, president of the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation, believes they can go far if given the time and resources to improve.

‘Just training once a day after work is not good enough,’ he said. ‘The athletes who came here train two or three times a day and some do volleyball full-time.

‘The Trinidadian coach said that his government paid for him and his team to leave their workplaces for a month and they have another three weeks paid leave to play in other tournaments. That’s the kind of commitment we need for our players otherwise they don’t have a chance.’

Williams is going to meet the president of NORCECA in the Dominican Republic next week knowing that Cayman’s praises are being sung by all the 20 teams from 13 countries that came here.

‘I’ve got calls and emails from people saying how appreciative they are of the way we hosted it. They said they felt so safe and everyone was so friendly.

‘We’re even getting requests from teams who now want to train here because they’ve heard Cayman is so beautiful and the beaches are so nice.

‘If Cayman hosts another leg next year I want our teams to be much better so that they can reach a higher level. We don’t want countries to just come here and beat up on us.

‘I’d like to once again thank all my sponsors, especially the major ones, Alden McLaughlin and the Ministry of Sports, FirstCaribbean Bank and the Olympic Committee.

‘Also special thanks to all the committee members especially Fareed Hosein, Carl Brenton, Courtney Phipps, Michelle Carter, and Keith Higgins who all went the extra mile. But most of all I want to thank the team members who did Cayman proud.’