Volleys of praise for Noel’s savvy

Volleyball already plays a big role for sports tourism in the Cayman Islands. Now the discipline looks to increase its position with the introduction of another major event.

The Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation is putting on an indoor tournament this weekend. The 2010 Cayman Airways Spikefest Invitational competition runs 26-28 November at the Sir Vassel Johnson Hall at the University College of the Cayman Islands. Times for the competition are Friday 5-10pm, Saturday 9am-10pm and Sunday 9am-7pm.

A number of international teams and players are slated to compete. They will join four local sides with a total 10 squads hitting the hard court. Volleyball federation President Noel Williams spoke about the visiting teams and the expected level of competition.

“We have teams coming from Chicago (a mixed team), Miami and New York,” Williams said. “They will feature pro players. We will also have a Caribbean all-star side representing Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica and the Bahamas. Pretty much the best (indoor) players in the Caribbean will be coming. Plus there’s slated to be a college team from the University of West Indies.

“Our local sides will feature names like the Kyotics, Falcons and the Bodden Town girls team the Upsetters. Locals can expect to see some of the stars of the sport like Olney Thompson, Shervin Rankin, Daniel Pattico and so on. The competition should be really good. I feel the tournament should be at a high level.

“This should be huge and well-attended. We managed to put on this tournament and keep it free for the public. We want as many people as possible to attend.”

Miss Cayman Cristin Alexander is slated to make an appearance as a player on one of the Cayman teams. Williams expressed delight at having attracted two international volleyball specialists in Barry Miller, President of Volleyball Canada and Manitoba Volleyball Officials Association and Azad Hosein, also of Volleyball Canada and the Federation International de Volleyball referees. Miller and Azad have been conducting clinics, where upwards of 20 individuals received primary certification as referees and officials.

Spikefest is slated to be a yearly feature on the volleyball calendar as it is sanctioned by regional volleyball governing body the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Federation.

Games take place under the direction of Cayman federation’s International Games Director Fareed Hosein. Lime will be giving away six mobile phones during the three day event and the other sponsors are Cayman National, Calico Jack, The Ministry of Youth and Sports, Acqua Penna, Heineken, Vibe 98.9, Vision Marketing and Jacques Scott.

News of the indoor event comes after a number of initiatives earlier this year by the sport. The second consecutive staging of the NORCECA beach volleyball tournament garnered its usual high praise while a district volleyball program by the West Bay and East End community sports committees proved to be a wildly popular success.

In particular the North and Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation event nabbed headlines across the world and put Cayman in a positive light. With events such as the Flowers Sea Swim and Cayman Marathon capable of similar feats volleyball is pushing to keep itself at the forefront of Cayman’s sports tourism product. Williams, who had a hands-role in all of the volleyball endeavours this year, spoke about how the sport can help Cayman.

“We wanted to try something different. Normally we do the beach tournament but we want to get people talking about Cayman for its indoor volleyball as well. We in the federation want people to come to Cayman to play sports, meet our people and have a good time on our beautiful islands. It’s the perfect opportunity for sports tourism.

“Instead of finding money to go abroad to play why not be creative and have other countries come here to play? We in Cayman can fill hotels and airlines with people coming here for sporting events.

Volleyball is creating events like this and maintaining a good partnership with the local government, who like us, want to have a lot more people coming to these islands.”

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Beach volleyball has sparked sports tourism in Cayman.
PHOTO: RON SHILLINGFORD

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