Sponsors volley local spikers

Christmas is a time to be merry and give thanks and local volleyball is doing plenty of both.

Earlier this month the Cayman Islands made history in beach volleyball. Both the national men’s and women’s squads advanced past the first stage of qualification for the London 2012 Olympics.

For Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation board member Carl Brown the sponsors were a big reason for the success.

“We know we wouldn’t be here without the sponsors,” Brown said. “I can’t say enough about the sponsors underpinning our success. They give us the resolve to be a strong force to be reckoned with. They allowed us to keep the games free for the public.

“They have dreamt with us over time and their confidence in us has allowed the North American, Central American and Caribbean volleyball federation to repose faith in us. We get support and strength from the sponsors and enough can’t be said about the leadership of Cayman volleyball federation president Noel Williams. Through him we’re at the forefront of the region to be considered hosts and worthy competitors.”

Cayman finished fifth in the NORCECA Continental Cup thanks to Richard Campbell and playing partner Shervin Rankin, Olney Thompson and Philippe Deslandes, Cristin Alexander and Jennifer Bily and Taylor Burrowes and Stefania Gandolfi. The teams achieved the mark on Grand Cayman’s Public Beach.

Six other Caribbean nations will join Cayman in the next round in men’s winner and women’s runner-up Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas (men’s runners-up), Barbados (who won the women’s group), Jamaica (which placed third for the men and fourth for the women), Curacao (third for the women) and St. Kitts and Nevis (fourth for the men).

The list of sponsors included the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture, the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, Cayman Airways, caycompass.com, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, Corona, Z99.9FM, Vibe 98.9FM, LIME, Funky Monkey and BDO.

The Continental Cup success caps off what was a busy and productive year for Cayman volleyball. In March Public Beach staged the annual NORCECA circuit opener, which attracted an all-time high 40 teams (eight better than the previous mark). In November Spikefest attracted a number of Caribbean teams for indoor volleyball.

Brown states the successful hosting of those tournaments puts Cayman in good international stead.

“Cayman is heavily favoured for its good flavour. Cayman is doing great in terms of filling obligations.”

Looking ahead, the sport will have much of its focus on next year. Cayman plays its next Olympic qualifier in Costa Rica in February against Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama and hosts Costa Rica.

All of those nations represent the top five countries from the Central America zone. At the end of qualifying next Spring, the NORCECA continental champions will be granted an Olympic berth.

Brown states Cayman volleyball is working hard to feature in the Olympics and beyond.

“The Olympic beach volleyball games will be next store to Buckingham Palace/parliament in London. Personally I’m not sure where they’ll get the sand from but it’ll be interesting.

“We in the federation would love to be part of the finals. At this point we’re positioning ourselves for great things to come.”