Today the Belize Volleyball Association held a press conference to introduce the team that will be representing Belize in the FIVB Men's World Championship Qualification Tournament. Belize will host six other teams who will face off in a round robin tournament. This tournament is the first stage in an international competition to earn a place in the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championships which, according to the BVA President, Allan Sharp, is the equivalent of the FIFA World Cup.
As the host country there is a lot of pressure for the home team to do well, but the coaching staff is not too worried about the team's capabilities. The team has trained together since February 2016, under Cuban coach Delio Arruebarrena, who is no stranger to high level play. And when asked about what gives the Belize team the edge in a tournament with such high level players, President Allan Sharp had this to say:
Allan Sharp - President "I think the fan base will be important and that same fan base will be important in motivating our guys. We know in this tournament very few teams will beat up the next team, you will be catching a team on a bad night for somebody to just beat up the next side; it's going to be a battle."
And it's going to be an expensive one. Belize has never hosted an international sports tournament of this magnitude before, and even with a sizable donation from the FIVB, the BVA needed to raise a significant amount of money:
Allan Sharp - President "Having such an event is very expensive and in all truth and honesty we try to discuss with the international body what Belize has never hosted such a tournament in volleyball; and it's very expensive, could we have try somebody else host it and we host something smaller and we were told that no, we had to host or suffer consequences. That is loss of assistance from internationals governing bodies, equipment and what have you. The reason I raise this is because I think it's important that the public realises that a country cannot just sit back and keep travelling to tournaments we have responsibilities to host. To host cost money and to host you want to have proper teams, or teams properly trained so you can represent well."
The tournament kicks off on Saturday, September 24th at 3:00 pm, at the SCA Multipurpose Center, and will continue on to the 30th of September. Tickets will be on sale at $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12, and if you can't make it out, the matches will be lived stream on the BVA's Facebook page, as well as on Youtube.
Team Belize introduced ahead of regional qualification tournament in menís volleyball
In sporting news, there is a major championship tournament coming to Belize next week, in the sport of volleyball. Belize is hosting the International Volleyball Federationís World Championship qualification tournament for our region from September twenty-fourth to thirtieth. All Central American countries save the higher-ranked Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are participating. This afternoon the Belize Volleyball Association introduced the press to Team Belize, an interesting mix of youth and experience. The President of the Association is Allan Sharp.
Allan Sharp, President, Belize Volleyball Association
ďAnd they began in the Under-21 and the Under-19; but you are correct, that about half of the team, if not more than half, are from the Under-23 and some are from the Under-21. This is good because the Belize team, because of the level of volleyball raising every year in Belize, a lot of it has to do with a strong local competition, as well as trying to get the teams out as much as possible to the international competitions. And the Under-23 in particular was a very strong team; a very strong group of guys, and so what we did was take the best of the Senior and add it to the Under-23. So yes we have a system, and a lot of very good athletes are coming along to add to the program.Ē
The youngest member of the team is sixteen years old and the oldest, Police Constable Ean Galvez, is thirty-seven and has been playing volleyball for Belize since the year 2000 Ė sixteen years ago. Seven of the final twelve-member team have participated at junior level for Belize, and some played in the recent Under-23 Central American championship where Belize came fourth.
Friday was the last day of practice for the Belize National Men's Volleyball Team, and the seven other teams from Central America and the Caribbean who are here for the FBVI Men's World Championship Qualification Tournament. We stopped by during practice and asked them if they're ready:
Delio Arruebarrena, Head Coach "We'll have to take it a game at a time, a set at a time, because with the preparation that the team has they have the ability and the capacity to do good. So they just have to take it in stride as it comes. We know it's not easy, but the guys can do it because they have the training and preparation."
Alex Courtenay, reporter "And if there are one or two things to keep in mind while playing these teams, that will help you actually do better what you those be?"
Karym Coleman "Well the first thing that we need to do is to stay focused. You know, we can't just be distracted especially at home. We have the fans that are going to be with us and you know our fans are pretty much critics, so if you're trying to fight back up they're there with you, but if you're down they're going to be right there telling you to get back up same. And the second is just you know, play as one, be cohesive."
The tournament starts this Saturday, and continues on to next week Friday. The top two teams in this tournament will go on to represent their countries in the NORCECA Continental Championship.
Belize Loses To Guat on Home court in Volleyball Tourney
The FIVB Men's World Championship Qualification Tournament officially began on Saturday in Belize City at the SCA Multipurpose Center. Team Belize, along with six others from Central America and the Caribbean started the long journey to earning a spot in the 2018 Volleyball World Championships. 7News was there for Belize's matches; and Alex Courtenay has the report:
Alex Courtenay reporting
In its opening match, Belize faced off against El Salvador. After a sound defeat in the first set, El Salvador was able to regain its composure, take the second set, and kept the match competitive by forcing Belize into a fifth set.
Belize scored early and often commanding spikes and excellent receptions of the opposing team's attacks.
They kept this up consistently the match. Still, despite El Salvador's worthy challenge, Belize managed to come out with its first win.
Karym Coleman, Belize Captain "We pretty much just did what we practiced, you know. In the practice they always put us in scenarios to come back from behind. So, we just put that to work. In two of the sets you notice we were down and we didn't give up, we just kept on fighting."
Reporter "Going up against Guatemala, what will change, or what strategy will change?"
Karym Coleman "We're going to minimize the errors, every time we do that then we blow out teams."
Reporter "What strategy did you employ on the court to pull off this victory tonight?"
Delio Arruebarrena, Belize Coach "First I spoke to the guys to have their minds set on what they were doing and focus. Then serve strong and solid, and of course, their power over the net."
Even though they lost, El Salvador seemed optimistic about the rest of the tournament.
Reporter "Is there anything you will tweak in your game plan for Game 2?"
Rodrigo Chavez, El Salvador Captain "We'll battle until the end. The strategy will be different because we're facing a different team."
Nery Henriquez, El Salvador Coach "Yes definitely there will be changes because Panama is different. We know them well also. We are well prepared to face them tomorrow."
While El Salvador was able to adjust its strategy and come out with a win over Panama on Sunday, Belize did not fare so well against Guatemala's speed and aggressive style of play.
In the end, team Belize had a collapse and lost in three sets.
Though they lost to Guatemala on Sunday, Belize is not out of the running for a top spot yet. Tonight, they play their third game against Panama. We'll tell you how that went tomorrow.
The FIVB International Men's Volleyball tournament continues tonight at the SCA multipurpose center in Belize City Ė and team Belize continues to surprise. After their loss to Guatemala on Sunday, Team Belize managed to take two back to back victories against Panama on Monday night, and Nicaragua on Tuesday. Our cameras caught the action last night and Alex Courtenay reports:
And while the Belize Menís Volleyball team looks to extend their winning record in a game against the Dominican Republic that should be starting right about now, another Belizean team is making its mark in Honduras. The girls from SCA are representing Belize in 19th CODICADER Games in Honduras. After a three set loss against Guatemala in their first game, the Belize team pulled off a victory against Nicaragua in three sets. Honduras did not fare any better, and also lost to Belize in three sets. On Tuesday, the SCA girls continued their winning streak, taking down Panama in three sets again. This puts Belize just one win away from earning a bronze medal in the games.
Heading into their fifth match of the FIVB International Men's Volleyball tournament, both Belize, and the Dominican Republic had a lot on the line. Both teams lost to the undefeated Guatemala but were still on track to earn one of the top two spots in the tournament, which would grant them entry to the North American tournament. Whoever lost would be out of contention, while the winner would have the opportunity to represent their country, and get a chance at a spot in the World Championship. High stakes - and here's how team Belize fared off:..
Alex Courtenay reporting
Last night at the FIVB Men's Volleyball tournament, Team Belize lost to the Dominican Republic after 5 sets of intense action.
After a slow start in the first set, Belize managed to bring themselves back from a double-digit deficit and stay in play until the end of the set. Despite struggling early, Team Belize ended the set with the momentum and carried it over to the second and won.
The teams traded sets for the rest of the match, both sides struggling to gain an advantage over the other
Team Belize, having already shown its offensive dominance over the net in previous matches, displayed prowess on the defensive side as well, stopping several powerful spikes sent by the large Dominican players. The well timed and well-positioned blocks neutralized the Dominican Republic's offensive onslaught.
The home team also showed tenacity, keeping the ball in play long enough to wear out its opponent and score.
Still, Team Belize did not play perfectly. Our back line was unable to receive several serves from the strong Dominicans, which resulted in the loss of several points.
With this defeat, Belize has lost the chance to advance to the next tournament round, where they would face off against the top teams in North America. Still, it was clear that the Belizean fans stood with their team and were proud of their performance.
Reporter "Tomorrow is a day off for you guys. What will you do on that day off? Will you go back to the drawing board and come back to try and win that final game on Friday?"
Karym Coleman - Captain, Team Belize "Oh well, we will win that final game on Friday. Tomorrow we're going to rest, recuperate and come back stronger than ever on Friday."
Delio Arruebarrena - Coach, Team Belize "The game plan went well. We were set to be tougher on the net, and defensive on the back, but the lack of concentration is what went wrong."
And while they won't be representing the country in the North American championship, the tournament is still not over for Team Belize. On Friday they play their final match against Honduras, and if they win, they will walk away with the bronze medal.
The FIVB Men's Volleyball World Championship Qualification Tournament came to a close last Friday at the SCA Multi-Purpose Center. In its final match, Team Belize faced off against Honduras, but in this game the stakes were high. If Belize lost, they would have only earned enough points to place fourth in the tournament, but a win meant that a Belizean team would take to the podium for the medal ceremony for the first time in sixteen years.
Alex Courtenay reporting
Coming off a day of rest, Belize started off its match against Honduras strong. With a commanding offense, the home team managed to gain an early lead and stay there.
From the start, Team Belize showed its intensity, never missing an opportunity to send powerful spikes down at their opponents. Though they put up a fight, Team Belize managed to break through the Honduran defense and take the first set.
Team Honduras came back stronger in the second set, keeping the score tight between the two teams. Still, Team Belize managed to capitalize on the Honduran team's mistakes while making sure to correct their own and win again in the second.
Team Belize kept the momentum going into the third set. With the crowd cheering them on, the Belizean players remained dominant, using fast paced decoy plays to stretch their lead and wear down Team Honduras.
After a brilliant display and show of skill, team Belize emerged triumphant. The players celebrated, and showed their appreciation for their coach, who trained them since February.
Bryton Codd - Outside Hitter, Team Belize "Well this game was a little bit more relaxing for us. We noticed that they were trying to change the pace of our game and try to have us drop from our level to their level but we just came out of that mental lapse and came out with the win. To have done this in front of our own Belizean people it's just an honor. It's overwhelming, it's fun, you name it, it's that."
Reporter "Alright Karym get in on this celebration here. How easy was it for you to overcome Honduras?"
Karym Coleman - Captain, Team Belize "We just had to put our minds right and execute so for us it was kind of tough. We kind of had to stay a little focused but in the end we managed to pull it off."
Team Belize clinched a bronze medal, ending a sixteen-year drought, but that wasn't all the team walked away with. Players from the Belize team earned individual awards.
Keith Castillo - Outside Hitter, Team Belize
Keith Castillo won an award for second best spiker.
Yserri Palacio - Middle Blocker, Team Belize
Yserri Palacio won second best blocker even though he had the most blocks in the tournament.
Karym Coleman - Captain, Team Belize
Team captain, Karym Coleman, also won big with the Top Scorer Award.
While Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, the top two teams in the tournament, will move on to the next round of Volleyball World Championship qualifiers, the players from Team Belize will go back to balancing school, work, and of course to begin training for their next tournament.