Up to press time last night though, the national squad was locked in heated contention against Colombia for an overall finish between sixth and 10th place. TT ’s confirmation of a spot within the top-10 at the still ongoing Pan American Cup however, has earned them automatic qualification to the Grand Prix.
Following the conclusion of this event in Santo Domingo, TT will join fellow NOR CECA (North America, Central America and Caribbean) qualifiers USA, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Canada and Cuba for next year’s Grand Prix.
NOR CECA rivals, Mexico and Costan Rica, were booted out of qualifying and will do battle for 11-12th place.
The Pan Am Cup features the best 12 teams from all of the Americas and is the highest level tournament that TT participates in annually. This tourney comprised of world number ones ranked USA, Brazil (#3), Dominican Republic (#7), Argentina (#12), Puerto Rico (#16), Canada (#17), Cuba (#20), Peru (#21), Columbia (#27), Mexico (#28), Costa Rica (#36) and TT (#36).
On the team’s qualification, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation Daymian Stewart, expressed elation.
“This one is all about the players, they have performed beyond their limits for years,” he said.
Stewart shared the achievement with all of the TT VF’s partners such as Ministry of Sport, Ministry of Education, Sport Company, University of Trinidad and Tobago, Tourism Development Company, Flow, Blue Waters, Mushtaque Mohammed CAZOVA president, local Olympic Committee president Brian Lewis and Ken Butcher (who started the process at SporTT and UTT ).
Before this tour though, Stewart recalled a bit of player frustration with the lack of resource allocated to them. But, the opportunity to contest at the Grand Prix is expected to increase the value of the athletes to European and Asian clubs where some of them play professionally and others aspire to. This exposure is destined to create other avenues for young players from TT and the Caribbean by extension.
Additionally, as team TT competes around the world, the twin-island republic is expected to benefit from greater exposure to prime volleyball countries of Europe and Asia. It will also provide a chance for TT to host its group matches on home soil.
Stewart also sees this achievement as testimony to the vision of the former Prime Minister Patrick Manning. In expressing condolences to the former PM, the Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation (TT VF) credited Manning for his 2020 vision which was demanded by the country’s then leader back in 2005. This ideology was supported by the Sport Company and University of Trinidad and Tobago. At that time, TT was ranked 82nd in the world.
At this time the TT VF is hard at work preparing plans for the next quadrennial.
These plans are expected to be launched soon.