The way to generate interest and build a strong national squad in any sport is to nurture youngsters from a very early age. History has proved that.
Volleyball could be following that time honoured formula and has taken its first baby steps by introducing it to pupils of John Gray High School.
It was the initiative of Ray Singh of Cayman Active Sports, who also runs many programmes at King’s Sports Centre.
Around 50 students – girls as well as boys – aged around 16 took part in the programme on Public Beach, many for the first time. And consensus was that it was a lot of fun and possible new serious sport for those who are still searching.
Nassaria Thompson, the Vibes volleyball team captain plays netball, softball, basketball with her brothers, does track and recently she took up boxing. She said: ‘This programme was good. Volleyball has built all our self-esteem and confidence and brought us closer together as one group.
‘I like coming out here and playing with my friends. It’s always good to get a good laugh, hanging out with them. In the summer, out of school, I don’t really get to see them and this really gets us together as one big group.
‘I also like the competition in volleyball and playing the rest of the groups.’
Travis Webb is better known as a medal winning long jump and high jumper but he has really taken to volleyball as well.
‘This is a lot of fun and it keeps kids out of trouble,’ he said. ‘I’ve played a lot of volleyball in PE at school but not outside. I’m not really considering volleyball as a serious sport because I’m mostly into track and field.
‘The other guys are learning and training in volleyball and they seem to be progressing. I even watched a volleyball match on ESPN the other day.’
Cayman beach volleyball director is Carl Brenton. His wife Wanda plays for the national team. He said: ‘We started off an eight week programme for high school kids and it’s gone well. The first six weeks was mainly instructional and then these past two weeks we’ve had playoffs and this is the final week.
‘We’ve got some really athletic kids here. I’m really happy with the attitude from them, it’s been really awesome. I hope this sparks their interest to take it up and for the younger kids too.
‘Vibe FM radio is one of the main sponsors and the rest of the Paramount group and we’re really grateful to them. I’d like to name check the other coaches; Michelle Carter, Duncan Hamann, Fareed Hosein and Andrew Gordon. They’ve been awesome, good interaction.’
Singh said: ‘All the kids have really taken to the programme and the coaches have done a fantastic job on them.
‘We really want to thank Paramount for stepping up and taking over the sponsorship, but as far as the programme, these kids are loving it and going to graduate from high school this year, they’re really glad they got this chance before graduating.
‘We’re looking at this programme quadrupling and the sky’s the limit. We’re hoping that next year they’ll all be playing volleyball.
‘We have Cayman Sports Active, the sister company to King’s Sports Centre and that company is dedicated to running programmes outside of King’s so this was one of our first tests and the response has been phenomenal. Flat out the kids have loved it.
‘It’s given them something to do on the weekends and that was very important. The way we see it, if we can keep them off the streets and on the beach, it can mean a better Cayman, right?’
There was an incentive too to finish the volleyball programme. They got prizes for playing but the main bonus is going to be given next week; $1,000 cash prize for doing a beach clean-up and promoting their sponsors. That is donated by Singh’s company, CSA.
On Friday they have an end of season party and over the weekend it will be the beach clean-up and the cash will be given for the team with the most bags of garbage collected. They also get points for the most comments posted on their web pages and the number of unique visitors.