HOT ACTION comes to the beach

Cayman’s beaches are world renowned, so when it comes to hosting international sporting events, beach volleyball is the perfect fit. The sport has experienced exponential growth around the globe, especially since its inclusion in the Olympic Games in 1996 and with fast action, not to mention athletic bodies, the sport has gone from strength to strength. This is the fourth year that Cayman will play host to a leg of the NORCECA tournament, with the tour kicking off in Cayman as it did last year.

The tournament will take place on Seven Mile Public Beach, which certainly beats some of the beach volleyball venues out there where the arena of play is constructed in a sand-filled parking lot. In fact, many visiting players have commented on the ability to stroll off the court after a game and straight into the ocean to cool off – something not possible in many other sports. This is one of the reasons the event has become very popular among the countries represented in NORCECA, and why it has been the opening event of the series for the past couple of years.

The tournament will take to the sand from 23 to 25 March, with some 42 teams, 21 women’s and 21 men’s, expected to enter the tournament.

Last year the tournament played host to teams from Barbados, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts & Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, the United States and the US Virgin Islands.

The organisers expect the event to draw top calibre talent again this year, with the expectation that a number of the winners from previous editions should be on the beach again this year.
It will be dawn to dusk action as the top players in the region battled it out for supremacy from 9am to 6pm each day. The beach will feature stands to house the spectators who throng to the event each year, with the many international communities on island cheering their teams on to victory.

Of course, the biggest cheer will be reserved for Cayman’s teams, who always put their home sand advantage to good use in the tournament. This year, as in the past, Cayman will be represented by two teams in each division. The men’s players will be Shervin Rankin, Richard Campbell, Olney Thompson and Philippe Deslandes, while the Cayman women are likely to be Jennifer Bily, Cristin Alexander, Stefania Gandolfi and Taylor Burrowes. However, as this is the opening event of the tour, the local players are likely to face the top players from the 35 countries that form part of NORCECA and will have to fight hard if they want to walk away from the tournament as the kings and queens of the beach.

The main sponsors of the tournament are Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports and Culture, First Caribbean International Bank, Cayman Airways, Cayman Islands Olympic Committee, Corona, Z99.9, LIME, Vibe 98.9, Cayman 27 and caycompass.com

Getting started

The tournament has also helped to boost local interest in beach volleyball, with the regular weekend leagues boasting ever improving standards of play. Of course, unless you are a super athlete, the two person format of beach volleyball is quite a challenge, which is why most of the local games are played by bigger, mixed teams, which makes the sport much more accessible. For more information, visit the Cayman Islands Volleyball Federation at civf.ky

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