Cayman’s top beach volleyball players are about to be in focus.
Grand Cayman’s Public Beach is slated to host the 2012 edition of the North, Central America and Caribbean Confederation tour opener. Some 43 squads representing 16 countries will storm Grand Cayman’s Public Beach on 23-25 March.
National player Richard Campbell, 27, states preparations for the local team have been ongoing.
“We’re using what time we can when we get off work and on the weekends to touch up on strategies,” Campbell said. “We had guys down from the States to train us. Even though it’s not as much time as we’d like, we’re still comfortable with what we are capable of doing with the training we’ve been doing leading up to this tournament and the one in Nicaragua.”
Campbell is one of eight players representing Cayman. He partners with Shervin Rankin as Andrew Gordon and Olney Thompson plus Duncan Hamann and Philippe Deslandes are the other male pairings. Cristin Alexander and Jennifer Bily are the lone female tandem.
The George Town native is coming off a exceptional stretch in the sport. Last December he was part of the national men’s team (which consisted of Campbell, Rankin, Thompson and Deslandes) that advanced past the first round of 2012 Olympic qualifying. Cayman would eventually lose in the semis of the NORCECA Continental Cup in Nicaragua. The ladies (featuring Alexander, Bily, Taylor Burrowes and Stefania Gandolfi) also advanced to the semis of the competition in Costa Rica.
Campbell states he is looking forward to once again playing alongside Rankin.
“I still feel comfortable playing with the local legend. In fact I’d say more so now than before. It seems his injuries are gone and he is more fit.”
The odds will once again be stacked against the national team excelling this weekend. A number of strong countries are expected to take part including the likes of Canada, the US and Mexico.
Athletes are slated to be arriving here from Wednesday, 21 March. Thursday, 22 March, is expected to be a training day with matches getting under way on Friday. Each day is expected to see action, organized by the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation, from about 9am until roughly 10pm with free admission to the public.
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.
Thompson, 44, states preparation for this weekend’s tournament is solid.
“The interest for beach volleyball is coming out into the light,” Thompson said. “More people are seeing it as an entertaining sport. It’s also good motivation for the kids.
“We have three male teams for Cayman and the preparations have included guys coming from the US. They prepared us to compete on this stage and for the next event.”
The 2012 NORCECA tour opener has a number of local sponsors including the Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Cayman Airways, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank and caycompass.com