Sunday, February 25, 2018

‘Worlds’ qualifier now in mid-July

THE final qualifying tournament for the Women’s World Volleyball Championships has been pushed back for the third time.

But this prestigious playoff tournament will still take place in Trinidad.

The tournament was originally scheduled to be contested last week, but the dates were changed by NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) from June 22-29.

The regional body for the sport has since made another amendment and the competition is now scheduled from July 14-21.

The Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation (TTVF) had stated earlier that the tournament will take place at Central Regional Indoor Sports Arena, Chaguanas, but this venue is also subject to change.

The TTVF had also indicated earlier that Minister of Sport Anil Roberts had given a commitment that his ministry will provide $400,000 to assist with the hosting of this historic event.

T&T are attempting to become the first team from the English-speaking Caribbean to qualify for the World Championships, but they will have to get past Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama.

All five teams reached this level by finishing runners-up in third-round qualifying tournaments last month and the winners of this event will earn the 24th and final place in the World Championships, alongside NORCECA compatriots Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the United States.

T&T finished second to their hosts as Cuba won Group Q at home in the middle of last month.

At No. 31 in the world, T&T are the third highest ranked team in the playoff tournament, but the hosts are just three places behind Mexico and two behind Costa Rica.

The five-time Caribbean champions have beaten both teams before, but not in the same tournament. T&T went under against the Costa Ricans in the bronze-medal match in the previous CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games four years ago in Puerto Rico.

The Nicaraguans are ranked 46th in the world, nine places ahead of the Panamanians.

This country’s men were eliminated in the third round of World Championship qualifying last month in Canada. The Men’s World Championships will take place in Poland from August 23-September 21 and the Women’s World Championships will start two days later in Italy and end on October 12.

The Women’s Pan American Cup served off yesterday in Mexico and the hosts, Costa Rica and T&T are among the 12 countries involved.