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Jun 27, 2001

Belize volleyballers look for recognition

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They spend a lot of time practising at the Belize City Centre, but the average sports fan would be hard pressed to name even one Belizean volleyball star. Having watched the national team’s latest workout, however, Jose Sanchez, is no longer a stranger to the game.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Volleyball may not be as popular as football and basketball, but it is a sport in which Belize is increasingly making its mark. Our National Male Team came in second in their last international outing and are now getting ready for another international competition against Costa Rica, Jamaica and Guatemala. To prepare for the event, the team has been having practice matches with one of Cuba’s most worthy junior teams.

Roberto Garcia, Coach, Cuban Junior Team

“Our team qualified in the NORCECA Tournament in 2000 against Russia and Canada, which enabled us to compete in the 2001 World Championship tournament in Warsaw, Poland. We came here with two objectives: firstly, to prepare ourselves for the world championship tournament in Poland and secondly, to help the Belize team for the NORCECA Tournament.”

The winner of next week’s tournament will advance to the Northern and Central American Championships. Oscar Arnold, Captain of Belize’s National Male Team, says practising with the Cubans is a battle in itself, but one that will help them eliminate the competition.

Oscar Arnold, Captain, Belize Nat’l Volleyball Male Team

“They have a very vicious jump serve as you guys will see throughout the course of the game. Costa Rica is pretty much ranked number one in Central America right now, Belize is number two. Costa Rica has a very good game and they have a host of jump servers and we are trying to get used to that. We don’t have very many high level teams in our area to play against and we would hit a plateau and we can’t go higher. So hopefully playing teams like the Cuban team and some of the higher notch teams we will be able to raise our game as well.”

Joseph Enriquez, Belize Nat’l Volleyball Male Team

“The team we are playing against right now is a junior team, but they rank about third or fourth in the world, so it’s a very good team we are playing against. Honestly, I prefer to play a stronger team where you can learn a lot from than a team you can just walk over, so that wouldn’t make any sense. So this is basically just to learn.”

As the score board indicates, the Cuban team is definitely in a class of it’s own, but they are humble and have a few words of advice for our team.

Raydel Poey, Cuban Junior Team

“We are basically helping them with their service. Since they are not strong in that area. Also, we’re assisting them in their receiving and blocking, since most of the players are not tall. But despite their average height, they are very good defensive players. “

Coach Roberto Garcia

“Technically, the Belize team does not have many weaknesses. They do need to improve on their blocking in order to be victorious. They also need to work on their service and start thinking collectively as a team instead of individuals.”

Oscar Arnold

“We are a hard working bunch, our executive as well as our players go through a lot. Right now we have six hour working sessions during the day and we play in the night against the Cubans. Right now a couple of guys have swollen knees and elbows and shoulders from overuse, but we’re holding together with tape and Ibuprofen.”

Depending on the outcome of next weekend’s games, our national team might be headed to the NORCECA championships in Barbados. Reporting for News 5, Jose Sanchez.

The public is invited to watch the practice matches which are held every night at eight the City Centre. The Cuban team leaves on July second and the NORCECA qualifying tournament starts on July sixth.

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