Volleyball fans get their annual treat this weekend with three days of world class action on Public Beach, starting on Friday.
It is the opening tournament of the 2014 North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation tour and to show how highly regarded Cayman is, the season which normally begins at the end of March, was delayed to accommodate local hotel dates.
Cayman’s prominence on the volleyball radar has come under the leadership of local volleyball president Noel Williams, who was reinstated last week to the top post, after Kennedy McGowan briefly succeeded him the week before.
Teenagers Ileann Powery and Chante Smith-Johnson are two of eight players representing Cayman at Seven Mile Public Beach and, although they are extremely inexperienced at this level, will gain considerably from the exposure.
The competition features the region’s best, like Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States, while Cuba return for the first time in five years.
The other Cayman reps are Jessica Wolfenden and Cristin Alexander for the women while Shervin Rankin and Richard Campbell team up and Olney “OT” Thompson and Philippe Deslandes form the men’s teams. The tournament is free to the public.
As there is now ample parking at the beach, no special requirements are needed. VIP parking for Saturday and Sunday only will be at Calico Jack’s parking lot.
Olympic gold medallist Todd Rogers is playing in Cayman again after enjoying his experience here last year in an American team.
Also, former Canadian Olympic rep Garth Pischke is coming as a coach for his daughter Taylor Pischke who is in the Canadian team. Fareed Hosein, tournament director, said, “Preparations have gone well. Obviously, with the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation board changes going back and forth, coping with this did have an effect on my organization of the event, however the necessary people are back in place.”
Hosein hopes Powery and Smith-Johnson can learn well this weekend. “They are definitely the future of Cayman Islands beach volleyball and they had an excellent showing in the Youth Olympic qualifiers recently in Puerto Rico,” he said. “Our other teams have been training very hard and will have a good showing against some very stiff competition.”