National team needs financial support for world qualifier


Senior Sports Reporter


IN one week, the Bahamas Volleyball Federation will be sending its men’s national team off to compete in the second round of the World Qualifying Tournament.

The Bahamas earned the rights to compete in the tournament August 9-12 in French St Martin after winning the 14th annual Senior Caribbean Volleyball Championships last year in the US Virgin Islands. And, according to federation president Joseph ‘Joe Mo’ Smith, they are making sure that the team is ready to compete.

“We are ranked No.1 in the Caribbean in the senior men and we can only get better to get to the World Championships,” he said.

“But we need help. We need financial help. The teams are doing great. They are representing the Bahamas well to the best of their abilities. We are ranked No.3 in the juniors and No.1 in the senior men, so I can only see our programme going forward.

“NORCECA has the Bahamas rated No.1 to win that tournament. We are poised to win another tournament with the senior men. The good thing is we have some of the players from our junior boys team on that team, so we are getting better and better.”

DeVince Smith, who just returned from Guadeloupe where he was the head coach on the team that won a bronze medal in the CAZOVA Junior Men’s Championship where Smith was the team manager, said the NORCECA has mandated all of their affiliated countries to have juniors included on their senior teams.

“Everybody is focusing on the development of volleyball and we feel that our young players will lead the way forward and so we are going to implement them on the team instead of trying to rebuild the whole team,” said Smith, adding that their goal is to win the title.

“I think we are the favourite in our pool. We had a lot of challenges with a venue to practice and hence we haven’t gotten the intensity and the amount of practices that we would have liked to put in, but yet still I think the fellows are ready. If we go out there and execute, even if we remember what we did in the past, I think we will do very well.”

Although the team has not been officially named, two of the players who have been working out in anticipation of making the team are excited about the Bahamas’ chances.

“It’s the same. We’re going down there to win,” said Tony Simon. “The higher you are seeded, the easier the next round is. So that is our mentality, to go to win. The only team we are familiar with is Barbados. We beat them in CVC, so they are no strangers to us.

“We play them in just about every tournament we go in. We know what they are up against and they know what we are up against. That’s the team that we look forward to playing against.”

Byron Ferguson, who is now playing professionally in Europe, said they have had a setback getting access to the Kendal Issacs Gymnasium to train, but that shouldn’t hinder their ability to remain on top in the Caribbean.

“I think this will give us more confidence and help us to compete against their teams,” said Ferguson when asked if he felt there is any pressure on the team to succeed. “The top team should be Barbados and we beat them last year at CVC, so we know what we are up against and what it takes to win.”

With the addition of the younger players on the team, Rolle said they should be welcome because “they are the young and coming players. They are the future.”

Immediately after the tournament, the federation will have a short break before they take the team back on the road to compete in the NORCECA’s Continental Championship set for September 21-29 in Langley, Canada.

The Bahamas expects to compete against teams from the United States, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

“It’s always good to get in games against that type of calibre, so you know how to chart your future,:” Smith said. “Once we look at their programme and the calibre of players that they have, we can scout and train players to be able to play at that level.”

Ferguson, who will be heading back to Germany where he hopes to duplicate last year’s performance as one of the top five in both hitting and blocking in Finland, may not be available to travel with the team to Canada, but he’s wishing them every success.

“We’ve been there before at Pan Am, but it’s just more preparation,” he said. “It won’t be disappointing for me if I don’t go, but I have a contract with a team in Germany this year, so I have to concentrate on that.”

However, Simon said the Bahamas should be quite fine, once they get through the world qualifier.

“When you go up against countries like the USA, Canada and Cuba who are always playing at the A level, you have to get mentally and physically prepared,” he said.

“We’re going to try to see if we can finish in the top five. But reality has to set in. We didn’t have the proper use of the gym in preparation, but we will be looking to finish in the top five.”

Hopefully, the federation won’t be faced with not having sufficient funding for all of the players to travel to the two tournaments.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment