Top level volleyball action comes to the Cayman Islands with the hosting of the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation Continental Cup, an Olympic qualifying event, this weekend.
It runs from 2-4 December with 40 teams representing 12 countries churning the sand and kissing the sun in net clashes on Seven Mile Beach vying for eight coveted spots, one step away from centre stage. By the closing stages of the tournament on the Sunday, four men and four women’s teams will play hoping to qualify within view of Buckingham Palace at London 2012.
Ten FIVB sanctioned officials will oversee and manage this event. Cayman Islands will welcome teams from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Curacao, Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent, by 30 November.
Carl Brown, board member of the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation, said: “We were in a formative frame of mind getting plans sorted for Cayman Airways Spikefest 2011 and NORCECA Cayman 2012 next march. One of the Cayman men’s teams will be Shervin Rankine and Richard Campbell and the other will be Olney ‘OT’ Thompson with Philippe Deslandes.
“Then a clarion call came from NORCECA President Cristobol Hoffiz asking if Cayman can host a second NORCECA tournament this year, this time an Olympic qualifier. In accepting the late challenge to host, we must thank NORCECA for valuing the Cayman Islands enough to include us on the annual calendar and taking a chance on having Cayman host the first leg of Olympic qualification.
“We’re able to host this event because of a successful partnership of Government and sponsors catching a vision, seizing the moment to stoke national pride. We can’t thank our sponsors enough. You walked with us from drawing board to great execution, especially over the last three years.
“Our major partners, the Department of Tourism, Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture, CIBC First Caribbean, Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, have been very supportive.
“CIVF is a circle of tireless workers. Our league organisers, volunteers, players, specialist help, board members, all work tirelessly, to get us where we are today. The games are going to be good. We will see and touch players destined for world greatness, come London 2012. We have a venue London would love to have. We are welcoming world famous Sinjin Smith, the legend.”
Distinguished Volleyball Hall of Famer (inducted UCLA Sports Hall of Fame 1991), Sinjin Smith will be attending the games as a special guest of the Cayman Islands and VIP. Smith along with Randy Stoklos – who was in Cayman assisting with preparing teams for the March games – are celebrated as the greatest team in beach volley ball history. Stoklos has the individual distinction of 11 international and world championships under his belt and hailed as the ‘King of the Beach’.
Smith is a member of the FIVB Beach Volleyball Commission presiding over the sport in 219 member countries including the Olympic and international games. He has served as President of the FIVB Beach Volley Ball beach Council. Smith and Stoklos are credited with affixing to Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach “the best beach volleyball venue in the world”.
Cayman’s volleyball reputation is rising regionally and internationally since humble beginnings in 1975, thanks to Noel Williams and tournament director Fareed Hosein. Williams credits team work, a strong board, courage to dream, think, and act big in shared vision. Today’s strong showing is rooted in a vibrant beach programme, a ten church, co-ed programme, an ambitious junior volleyball ball league.
Ministry of Sport Mark Scotland said: “Cayman is proud to be host to 12 neighbour countries in the NORCECA Continental Cup Olympic Qualifier. The ministry can be proud that Cayman is emerging as a jurisdiction of choice to stage international sporting events.
“It is healthy for our economy, promising for our athletes and a registration of our ability to think and act outside the box. The Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation are netting much opportunity in their sports tourism initiatives.
“We can look forward to big ticket world champions events in the not too distant future…thanks to our sporting organisations that dream big and work accordingly. These events come to us only after much hard work, cultivated cooperation with sponsorship partners during difficult times, and the strategic alliances that are now bearing fruit. Thanks to our Department of Tourism, our sponsors, our athletes, our warm and sharing Cayman community. We do well together. To the Cayman teams, London 2012 is our goal. I am cheering all the way. While welcome our guests we seek to take the medals.”