North Side serves up history

The 2014 North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation World Championship Men’s First Round Qualifier takes place this weekend, 6-7 October.

Under the direction of the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation, Cayman is serving as host for the first time. Four male Caribbean teams, representing Cayman, Aruba, Barbados and Suriname, will be competing for a spot at the World Championships in Poland in 2014.

Representing Cayman will be some 13 players including national team stars Richard Campbell and Olney ‘OT’ Thompson. Kennedy McGowan serves as team manager with Keith Higgins as head coach.

Volleyball federation public relations officer Carl Brown states the players have come from various circles.

“We have a range of talent from a variety of places,” Brown said. “People have qualified to represent us.

“We have Davison Ruwende, who is the junior national team coach, Duncan Hamann is someone drafted from the beach circuit after starring there. Players have been drafted from the national league and there are some that have come through the church league.”

Residents can catch Cayman 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.

Cayman is the 12th stop out of 15 and the sixth nation to stage male qualifiers. Some 11 other countries have served as host during the qualification process.

The last stop was in St. Martin in late August, where the home team won in the capital of Marigot. From here, qualifying shifts to Curacao on 26-29 October and the Dominican Republic on 2-5 November.

In Cayman, teams will be hunting for spots in next year’s second qualification round, which are reserved for the top three sides.

The world championships are a quadrennial event. Poland serves as host for the first time as 24 countries will be playing in six cities.

Another first with this weekend’s tournament is the use of the new Clifton Hunter High School Sports Centre in Frank Sound. The school, which opened its doors to students this fall, is the new venue as the site shifted from the University College of the Cayman Islands to North Side.

Frank Sound is getting its initial shot at hosting a major sporting event. The sports centre is slated to rival that seen at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre, which recently hosted the volleyball federation’s national indoor league.

Volleyball federation tournament director Fareed Hosein states Frank Sound is an ideal setting for the tournament.

“We had an opportunity to move it to Frank Sound, which is a very state-of-the-art facility, and we jumped at the opportunity,” Hosein said. “It’s very nice, lots of seating capacity, new flooring and lots of Internet capability, which is huge for this tournament. All things point to Frank Sound as the perfect place to host a championship qualifier.”

This weekend’s tournament is the first of two indoor competitions planned for Cayman. The annual Cayman Airways Spikefest event is slated for 9-11 November. Cayman will be challenging teams from Jamaica, Bahamas, the US and Barbados.

The Frank Sound event will have free admission to the public with food on sale.

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