PLEASANTVILLE, San Fernando, Trinidad, July 6, 2022 – Still basking in their success of 2019, Suriname has made it no secret that they intend to put up a very good defence of their title when the 2021 Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association Youth Girls (Under-19) Championship begins at the Southern Regional Indoor Sports Arena on Thursday say their are all optimistic of claiming the crown.
Three years ago when the competition (formerly Under-18) was last held in Jamaica, Suriname overcame Barbados in the final to dethrone the latter while T&T, previous winners in 2007 on home soil, 2012 in US Virgin Islands and again in 2013 on home soil once more had to settle for fourth spot behind ISV.
However, T&T will be on home soil once more and will be keen to make it three championship wins as host and will no doubt pose a serious challenge along with first-time competitors at this age level Martinique, and US Virgin Islands in the four-team round-robin competition at the end of which the top two teams will compete for gold, while the third and fourth placed teams battle for the bronze.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, the four coaches while cautious about their approach to the series hinted that their teams were capable of going all the way to the title.
ISAAC RAPHAEL (US Virgin Islands): We have been preparing for the past two weeks with training sessions twice per day and we are ready as can be. I’m excited about the potential the team has as the players have really gel together as a unit and of course I would like to have more time to prepare, but we are here to compete and do our best:”
SALEEM ALI (Trinidad and Tobago): “Basically we have been in preparation as a team for the past three weeks following the completion of the T&T Volleyball Federation Developmental Festival, and apart from two players we basically have a brand new team.
“The players are prepared as much as they can be, but we lack experience without a doubt and will go into the competition taking one match at a time.”
CLAUDIUS STRAAL (Suriname): “We started to prepare two months ago with about 35 players and recently made our final selection of 12 players for the tournament. Two years ago we were the winners of this competition at the Under-18 level, so we basically have a core of players who were part of that winning team here with us again. We want to repeat as the champions but first we have to take it match by match and try and finish among the top two teams in the round-robin so we can play in the final.”
WILHAM LEBEL (Martinique): “This is going to be our first time presenting a team in this category of the Championship and for us it’s a huge honour for us to participate coming after the pandemic which made it very difficult for our team to prepare and I am sure for the other teams as well in the competition.I expect that al four teams will be a good level of play and I do expect my team to play good against each team as well because know that Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and USVI are all good teams and we will try to compete as best as we can.”