Expectations for the Cayman Islands are high ahead of a major volleyball event.
Members of the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation are confident the local men will finish in the top three at the 2014 North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation World Championship Men’s First Round Qualifier this weekend, 6-7 October.
Among the believers is federation tournament director Fareed Hosein.
“The top three teams move on to the next stage,” Hosein said. “We’re hopeful Cayman should be one of the top teams and move forward. The women’s leg is taking place in Jamaica later this year and the Cayman women are training for that.
“The Cayman Islands continues to be a leader in the Caribbean region, pertaining to the quality and success of our international volleyball and beach volleyball tournaments. We hope to continue with this trend and keep striving to position Cayman as an important sports tourism destination.
“Many thanks to the sponsors of the event, without whom none of this would be possible. We look forward to their support for Spikefest on 9-11 November and towards future events.”
Under the direction of the federation, Cayman is serving as host for the first time. Three male Caribbean teams, representing Aruba, Barbados and Suriname, will face the host nation for a spot at the World Championships in Poland in 2014.
Making its debut on the local sports scene will be the new Clifton Hunter High School Sports Centre in Frank Sound. The school is the new tournament venue as the site shifted from the University College of the Cayman Islands to North Side. The sports centre is slated to rival Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre, which recently hosted the federation’s national indoor league.
Suiting up for Cayman will be roughly 12 players in Shameel Ali, Martin Bodden, Richard Campbell, Duncan Hamann, Keith Higgins, Keeble Knight, Joebert Macasling, Ryan McGuire, Jesse Pie, Brian Purcell, Davison Ruwende and Olney ‘OT’ Thompson. Higgins is head coach with Kennedy McGowan serving as team manager.
Federation public relations officer Carl Brown states those guys can have success.
“Cayman will emerge one of the victors,” Brown said. “Cayman can stand as good a chance as anyone else to advance because of the collective experience. Some people from overseas will represent us as well. They have been to world tournaments before and they know what to expect. We’ve done our homework and we’re not making up numbers.
“Cayman was chosen to stage this qualifier not only for how well we’ve hosted, but because we performed well as a host nation and participating country, considering how small we are.”
To Hosein and Brown’s point, the Cayman roster has talent. There are established stars like Campbell and Thompson with Hamann and McGuire hoping to translate beach success to the court. Knight and Bodden are among the veterans with Ruwende serving as the national junior coach.
Residents can catch Campbell and company in action on Saturday at 9am against Suriname and at 8pm against Aruba. On Sunday, Cayman plays Barbados at 11am with the playoffs taking place at 6pm and 8pm.
Brown states the excitement has been slowly building.
“We had the NORCECA officials arrive on Thursday with the teams arriving on Friday. Admission is free (with food on sale) but we are still in need of volunteers.
“As a heads-up, there will be restricted areas as people can only use the gymnasium. Parking is being designated on the East side of the property.”
To volunteer, call Fareed Hosein at 925-4317 or Noel Williams at 916-2134