Canada's men’s team head coach, Glenn Hoag, is optimistic about his squad's chances at the 2013 World League. For the first time since1990, The FIVB has expanded this annual tournament to 18 teams, which will be divided in three pools of six. The finals will consist of eight teams although the location of the finals has yet to be determined. The best ranked teams will play in pools A and B with the top three of each pool advancing to the finals. Pool C, where Canada will play Finland, Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, and Egypt, was given just one berth to the finals. The eighth finalist will be the host country – if it’s among one of those qualified, the last spot will be given to the next best on the group standings. The World League begins this May, ending in July.
“The new formula is okay. We maybe have a little more chance to reach the finals, although it will be always difficult because of our opponents, even if lower ranked, they have a very good level”, says Hoag, who also coaches Arkas Izmir, one of the strongest European teams playing in the Turkish league and the CEV Champions League (the main club tournament in Europe).
Glenn Hoag told us that World League is really important for the national team program because it enables the players to stay in touch with the game at the very high level. This is something Canada didn’t have the opportunity to take advantage of until recently. Hoag started coaching the national team in 2006. “We have profited immensely from last year because of the quality matches we had against Poland, Brazil and Finland. Some of our players, such as (Gavin) Schmitt, (Gord) Perrin, (Justin) Duff, (Adam) Simac, have grown through the summer season” he tells us.
The main goal of Canada's men's team is to qualify to Rio Olympics in 2016. Last year when trying to make it to the London Olympics, they were stopped by the United States in Long Beach, California. Before that match, they had some great performances, including a straight set victory over favourite Cuba. This past year, Canada made its comeback to the World League after a five-year absence. The Canadians managed to beat Brazil once, ranked world’s number one, and defeated the Finns twice. Canada finished 12th overall with three wins and nine losses.