As the Cayman Islands prepare for Mexican opposition, volleyball’s regional head is placing great importance on the XXII Central American and Caribbean Games.
Olney Thompson and Keith Higgins are representing Cayman in the beach volleyball portion of the Games. The local duo are expected to be in action on Nov. 26-30 at Playa Marti, on the coast of Veracruz. North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation President and Fédération Internationale de Volleyball Vice President Cristobal Marte Hoffiz is in Mexico for the matches and says the goal is to boost the sport’s global appeal.
“For the NORCECA confederation, as well as the South American confederation and FIVB President Dr. Ary Graça, this competition has a great meaning,” Hoffiz said. “Dr. Graça expressed it at the FIVB Congress in Italy, where he also recognized all the work done in our region.
“As far as I know, we have been the only confederation that provided training seminars in volleyball and beach volleyball in both cities, Cordoba and Veracruz, as well as technical and material resources – such as a playing court, volleyballs and antennas. The audience deserves a first-class event.”
For Hoffiz, indoor games figure to have the biggest impact as they are being played at the Cordoba Arena – which was built in time for the Games. The facility, which can hold more than 3,000 spectators, will serve as a state academy for indoor volleyball in the future.
In regards to the Cayman team, it should be noted that Thompson is one of local volleyball’s stalwarts – having served up spikes at gymnasiums and beaches for over two decades. Higgins is also an experienced player, particularly in the indoor version of the sport, but has mainly been on the sidelines in recent years as a coach and executive member of the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation. The pairing is unusual, considering Thompson has previously played alongside the likes of Shervin Rankin, Richard Campbell and Duncan Hamaan at regional tournaments.
Thompson and Higgins are two of many Cayman athletes, along with their support staff, participating in Mexico. Seven sports are being represented – aside from volleyball the others are athletics, boxing, rugby, squash, sailing and swimming. The opening ceremony took place at the Estadio Luis Parata Fuente on Friday night, with swimmer Catriona MacRae being among the first Cayman athletes in action over the weekend. The Games continue this month, with the closing ceremony slated for Nov. 30 at the aforementioned football stadium.