The presence of an Olympic qualifier here has sparked renewed interest in staging a volleyball world championship.
Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation member Fareed Hosein states Cayman is primed for bigger competitions.
“Sinjin Smith of the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball came down to assess whether Cayman is capable of holding a world class event,” Hosein said. “He was very pleased with the March event and its organization. A world championship would feature the best of the best in the world. By hosting one, we can really be beneficial to sports tourism and hold a market.”
Hosein is the tournament organiser for the North American, Central American and Caribbean volleyball federation Continental Cup on 2-4 December. The beach volleyball competition is the first round of 2012 Olympic qualification.
Public Beach will host 11 Caribbean countries and a total of 40 teams. The visiting teams are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Curacao, Dominica, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent.
The number of teams is a NORCECA record, eight better than the previous mark. The Olympic qualifier comes after the 2011 edition of the NORCECA beach volleyball tournament back in March saw 40 squads. The first stop on a global circuit did not see any of the Cayman teams excel but it was a boon for the Island in its third year as host. Cayman attracted 17 teams in its first year in 2009 and 24 sides last year.
Ten international volleyball sanctioned officials will oversee and manage the Continental Cup. Smith is returning as a special guest. He is a part of the volleyball federation’s beach volleyball commission presiding over the sport in 219 member countries including the Olympic and international games. He has served as president of the volleyball federation’s beach volleyball council.
The top four teams from the Continental Cup advance to the next stage of Olympic qualifying next year, which Cayman could host once again. Hosein is confident Cayman can pull off a world championship as well, though the financial commitment is steep.
“The world championship would cost around $300,000-$400,000. But it would be invaluable to Cayman. We cannot continue to tap the North American tourist market. With the recession those tourists have become very mature (about their options). One way to maximize tourism is have a new outlet like sports tourism that can create a different attraction for tourists.”
From all accounts it seems a world championship would get significant backing from the public and private sectors. Government, especially Minister of Sport Mark Scotland and his ministry, have voiced its support of beach volleyball while numerous companies have consistently stepped up to sponsor each NORCECA tournament.
Indeed the Continental Cup has numerous entities listed as sponsors including the Department of Tourism, the Ministry of Sports, the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, Cayman Airways, caycompass.com, Corona, Z99.9FM, Vibe 98.9FM, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, LIME, Funky Monkey and BDO.
For the record, the Olympic qualifier sees action on three courts 9am-10pm on Friday and Saturday, 2-3 December, with two courts in play 9am-6pm on Sunday, 4 December. Admission for all three days is free.
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