Trinidad and Tobago’s male beach volleyball players continue their march towards Olympic qualification when they commence the second round of the Continental Cup Men’s Inter- Zonal Beach Qualifiers which serves off on Castaways Beach, Antigua, today.
TT will be represented by two teams – the ‘Toco Boys’ Daneil Williams and Male Volleyballer of the Year Fabien Whitfield (team one) and the pair of Christian Francois and Caribbean Indoor Volleyball’s Most Valuable Player, Simon Blake.
Williams and Whitfield are the top ranked TT duo coming off a dominant 2015 NOR CECA Beach Volleyball Circuit, where they bagged two bronze medal finishes. Francois and Blake however, will be making their debut in the qualifiers, in the absence of Abraham Eccles and Tevin Joseph.
Starting today, 12 countries will compete with two teams each starting in the three-day tournament for the men. With national coach David Thomas travelling with the team, the Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation (TTVF) chose to carry the females to Antigua to train this weekend before they fly over to Ocho Rios, Jamiaca, to compete the female version of the tournament next weekend. The TT women are being led by Ayana Dyette and Malika Davidson, ably supported by Aphia Glasgow and Lateisha Joseph.
President of the TT VF, Daymian Stewart, will serve as the competition director for both the male and female events. Speaking from Antigua yesterday, Stewart stated if the Federation, technical staff and players are serious about qualification for Rio 2016, it must show in their results. He made clear that he would be the first to call on the government for support for his part-time athletes, who are trying to make strides in a professional sport. The TT VF head is still intent on capturing gold this weekend in the second round of the four round process.
Stewart said: “So far the athletes are only driven by their own passion, they haven’t received the necessary support but they are ready to cross this hurdle.
Their compatriots in individual sports have received tremendous support from successive governments and volleyballers haven’t simply because we don’t have a team sport policy to support members of the two-a-side sport.
Beach Volleyball is second only to the 100 metre sprint event in terms of popularity at an Olympic Games.” The TT VF also acknowledged sponsors Flow and NOR CECA for the support that allowed them to represent the red, white and black.