Public Beach serves big numbers

A record amount of beach volleyball teams are expected to be in Cayman this month.

The Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation is expecting some 43 squads representing about 16 countries on Public Beach. All will be competing in the North, Central America and Caribbean Confederation tour opener 23-25 March.

Federation board member and public relations officer Carl Brown states Cayman is in a favourable position.

“The NORCECA event will be a showcase of 43 teams as 16 countries are lined up to attend,” Brown said. “That’s already an increase and register of confidence in Cayman beach volleyball. That helps us to build a strong venue for an international event.

“Volleyball is experiencing a golden surge in Cayman and the federation will make the most of this opportunity to get a stronger position nationally and internationally.”

Cayman has hosted the NORCECA series opener the last four years. In 2011 a record 40 teams stormed these shores, eight better than the previous NORCECA mark. Every edition has seen more squads take part as Cayman attracted 17 squads in its first year in 2009 and 24 sides in 2010. A number of powerhouse countries have competed here including the US, Canada and Mexico.

The event has become a staple of the Cayman sports scene, garnering support from local government, the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee and numerous private sponsors.

News of the NORCECA opener comes after noted regional instructor Juan Cartagena held a youth clinic. The Puerto Rican has worked with various Caribbean countries in the past and focused his efforts here on improving player fundamentals and helping formalize a national youth development policy. Cartagena stated he was pleased with Cayman’s progress.

“It has been a great experience and the Cayman Islands volleyball authorities have a lot of enthusiasm which guarantees a sustainable development plan,” Cartagena said. “I have had the opportunity to support and offer recommendations to those players at the grass roots level who will be taking part in future competitions across the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association zone.”

For the record, Cayman’s top male and female beach volleyball players are Cristin Alexander, Jennifer Bily, Taylor Burrowes, Richard Campbell, Philippe Deslandes, Stefania Gandolfi, Shervin Rankin and Olney Thompson. All made it to the NORCECA Continental Cup semi-finals last month.

Brown states Cartagena’s presence was a good segway into this month’s competition.

“It was the first time we had an official NORCECA instructor/volleyball programme development officer in Juan Cartagena. It was International Volleyball Federation sponsored, women’s national team player Jennifer Bily was involved and over 200 people attended on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.

“This was his first experience here but not his last. We’re a special people and it’s refreshing to consistently hear that. I take his words of praise seriously and by no means do Juan’s words come off as contrite.

“It shows Cayman being recognised for our work. It leads us into the NORCECA event in March. We’re growing up quickly and the talent is showing more and we will figure more on the regional stage in the future. All we in the federation can say is thanks to the Cayman community because without them we wouldn’t realize the dream.”