Head coaches speak ahead of 15th Pan Am Cup in Gatineau

Group A: Nicolas Vives, Head Coach of Cuba We just returned from winning the World Challenge in Korea and qualifying to the VNL next year. We want to perform well here while also testing new players and resting some of our key men after a busy campaign and in preparation for the World Championships.

The team is almost the same as the one who won this tournament in 2019, with the addition of Robertlandy Simon and Michael Sanchez. I started coaching this generation of players in 2017 and they are progressing well, from the U19 to the U23 World Championships and their involvement in international leagues. They have matured technically and tactically and are now in a better place to solve crucial moments in a game. This generation should peak in 2024 and stay with the world’s best and the VNL is a great step forward.

Guy Bradbury, President of the NORCECA Refereeing Commission, at the Preliminary Inquiry meeting

Andy Read, Head Coach of USA

The team is a blend of guys that we had at the Pan Am Final 6 in Mexico and some guys that are coming back from VNL. It is a very good blend. Our talent level and physically are better that what it was in Mexico. We look forward to a better finish than Mexico (bronze).

The team preparing for the World Championships is staying in Anaheim, so our guys are here to gain more experience.

This tournament is the most important ever in the history of the Pan Am Cup. It has world rankings points involved for Olympic qualification, which is everything.

Team USA at the Preliminary Inquiry meeting

Jorge Gutierrez, Head Coach of the Dominican Republic

It is important to be here to gain experience. We have our U21 team, they are young, and we want to improve our level of play. The players here just want to play and show the world they can play at this level.

Daniel Nejamkin, Head Coach of Chile

Our goal here is make the podium, plain and simple. We think we can do it. So we are going to play for that.

The Pan American Cup is better for us than training because we have to play against a lot of teams that are ranked similar or better than us. In South America, Brazil and Argentina play at a higher level, and we always play against Colombia and Venezuela. So here, we have the opportunity to play against international teams that can really test us.”

Group B

Jorge Azair, coach of Mexico

We have prepared well since the start of the year. It’s a young team that has been progressing well and preparing for the World Championships. We have lost players through injury and conflicts with school calendars. We secured our main goals so far by qualifying to the 2023 Pan Am Games and the World Championships.

We are here to obtain valuable world ranking points for future events such as the Olympic qualifiers for 2024.

Oswald Antonetti, coach of Puerto Rico

This is our third tournament this summer. We have been adding elements and some key players are returning here to join the squad preparing for the World Championships. We treat this tournament with the same rigour as the World Championships.

We have a young team who is creating an identity. Some of these players won the Norceca championship last year. We have been working on creating a sense of sacrifice, courage, discipline and identity that we need so much as an Island.

We have 90% of the players here who will make the squad for the World Championships. For us, the World Championships starts with this Cup. We train well and we are able to execute the modern form of playing volleyball. We are integrating the right elements into our game. We can’t accelerate this process.

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Guilherme Pinto, Head Coach of Brazil:

We want to give the guys some good experience. We are very glad and happy to be playing at a high-level competition like this. This experience will help them achieve their future goals and the teams’ goals moving forward.

They are a young team, so this is a development opportunity for the guys, especially mental development. Representing Brazil, our country, is something to be very proud of, so we hope we will continue to play with pride throughout the tournament.

Fun Facts:

Brazil #19 is son of Adriana Bento, Canadian beach volleyball coach.  He is Canadian dual citizen.

They’ve already qualified for the Pan Am Games through Jr Pan Am games, this tournament is therefore important for FIVB ranking for the Olympics and VNL qualifications.

Brazil and NORCECA representatives at the Preliminary Inquiry meeting

Dan Lewis, Head Coach of Canada

We have a pretty experienced group, there’s a lot of guys that train here that have the potential to go to World Championships so I feel that we should be trying to win our pool, as the first step. Then of course I would like the guys to be in the medals. So you can expect that we are fighting for gold.

The guys are excited first not having to listen to me yell at them in training, and to actually play a game. But of course, obviously competing. There are so many great countries here, it’s not just the top hemisphere, but the southern hemisphere as well with a bunch of dynamic players. We hardly ever see Chile; Brazil is younger, but they are very highly skilled and they’re big so it’s super fun to play a group like that. Cuba’s A team just qualified for VNL, are now near the top 10 best teams in the world probably, with maybe arguably one of the best serving teams in the world. So I think opportunity to compete first for the guys, and then to actually be competing against some of the best talent in the world, is really good for them.”

A quick thank you, we know it takes a lot of organization and everyone is working so hard to host an event this size. We’re very excited about the new gym too and what we can get going there. And then to the volunteers, we know they come and give a lot of their time, so we thank them, and it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Alan Ahac, Volleyball Canada’s Director, Indoor International Events, at the Preliminary Inquiry meeting