Months of training, financial investment and many other personal sacrifices have come to nothing for the members of the St Vincent and the Grenadines senior men’s volleyball team.
In training for the past eight months, the team was preparing to be part of the NORCECA inter-continental championships next month in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
This country gained the right to be the Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association’s representative at the inter-continental championships after champing the sub–region tournament staged in Grenada last year.
However, this will not be the case, as according to the president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Volleyball Association Suzanna Ollivierre, a series of events have led to the national team being unable to travel to the prestigious championships.
Ollivierre explained that her executive’s woes began sometime in June, when a correspondence from NORCECA’s president Christobal Marte Hoffiz informed them that the SVG team needed to have their visas in hand before the airline tickets were purchased.
NORCECA, the confederation that oversees volleyball in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, was responsible for the purchase of the tickets for the St Vincent and the Grenadines team’s travel to Canada.
“We were very surprised, because this information was never brought to our attention before and it was about the 15th of June and they were saying that we needed to have everything done by the 30th June… Now with all of that you would understand that there was no way we could have had the visas in hand,” Ollivierre related.
The SVGVA president said that the necessary mechanisms were explored to fast track the visas.
But another stumbling block was placed in St Vincent and the Grenadines’ path, when NORCECA later stated that its promise to purchase the 15 airline tickets would be replaced with a travel grant.
“So we had two obstacles that were before us, which of course would be the additional funding that would be necessary and also now that they need to have the visas within a very short space of time… So we did work diligently trying to have everything done, but we could not have had the visas in hand,” Ollivierre related.
The SVGVA president noted that hope of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ participation was still held, granted the nature of the high profile championships.
But Ollivierre noted that another telling factor was when it was observed that St Vincent and the Grenadines was not included in any of the information promoting the inter- continental championships.
Ollivierre said that they immediately contacted NORCECA for clarification.
“When we tried to clarify that, we were given the assurance that it was not going to be an issue… Then we got an email from Volleyball Canada stating that they would only allow eight teams to participate in the tournament,” Ollivierre bemoaned.
Ollivierre revealed that amidst that latest development, Christobal Marte Hoffiz had given the guarantee that he would handle the matter.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Volleyball Association’s hopes were raised when an invitation was received from Volleyball Canada, for the team to participate, but information about the championships was not forthcoming from NORCECA.
“We received correspondence stating that NORCECA would pay for 12 players, one coach, one assistant coach and an international referee, to participate,” Ollivierre informed.
“Thereafter, when the information was provided about who the 12 players would be, the coach, the assistant coach and referee, we then received emails stating that they would proceed to purchase the airfare… So it was with great surprise later on that they stated that they did not purchase the airfares and that now the tickets were more than would have been expected,” Ollivierre lamented.
Ollivierre stated that the players have openly expressed disappointment at not being able to make their second trip to the inter-continental championships, but will have to refocus on readying themselves for the national championships in October, and future ECVA competitions.
St Vincent and the Grenadines debuted at the NORCECA inter-continental championships in Colorado Springs in 2017.