On Wednesday’s podcast we spoke to Ed Drakich, Volleyball Canada’s Beach Volleyball High Performance Director and a Technical Supervisor for the FIVB. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, scroll down to view the podcast, his interview starts at the 8:14 mark.
The FIVB has exploded with tournaments this year. In the past, the season generally ran from April until the end of August, with a few tournaments running in the fall months. This year, the season will be (potentially) kicked off in March with the World Cup in Brazil (March 20th-24th, To Be Confirmed), and run almost right through to December. Talk about an upgrade.
Not only this, but the FIVB has expanded, with events in Mexico, Argentina, Uganda, UAE, England, Qatar, South Africa, Indonesia, and even the U.S. (For the entire tentative schedule, see it here). It seems as though many more countries are jumping on the FIVB bandwagon.
There are a few factors that are making it easier for promoters to support the FIVB World Tour. First of all, they are slightly reducing the prize money. They are also limiting the number of teams per tournament. In the past few years, Open tournaments featured 32 main draw teams, 48 qualifier teams, and whoever else was in the country quota.
Now by eliminating the qualifiers for Open tournaments and limiting it to 16 teams for Grand Slam’s, the promoter has two less days of competition in which they must pay for accommodation, food, transport, site rentals, etc. As we know well in Canada after the cancellation of the Quebec Jeep Open, financial stability for any event is crucial.
The reason they are able to eliminate the qualification for these tournaments is the implication of a universal points system. In the past, the only way to gain points for the FIVB World Tour was on the Tour. Now, all events (Olympics, World Championships, Grand Slams, Opens, U19, U21, U23 World Championships, Continental Tours, and National Tours) will receive points.
To attain the World Tour, you must compete on your National Tour (must be sanctioned by the FIVB) and Continental tours to achieve enough points to attend the FIVB tour.
What this means for Canadians
As of right now, it seems that only the team of Bansley/Maloney will have enough points to attain the World Tour directly.
For all other Canadians, the NORCECA Tour (which many considered somewhat of a joke) just got a whole load more important. Since here in Canada we don’t have a National tour, and the NORCECA Tour only allows 16 teams per gender (generally one team per country, sometimes two) there will be a bottleneck of Canadians looking to get on to the NORCECA tour who will be sitting at home in Canada without meaningful competition.
One thing Ed and Volleyball Canada seem to be very adamant about is results. If you aren’t medalling on the NORCECA Tour, you won’t be given many chances. With so many teams on deck waiting to compete, it will essentially be medal or bust for our Canadian teams on the NORCECA Tour.
Here are the Canadian teams who will be looking to compete this summer:
MEN: Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk, Maverick Hatch/Josh Binstock, Matt Zbsweski/Christian Redmann, Garrett May/Dan Dearing, Grant O’Gorman/Sam Pedlow, Cam Wheelan/Mike Plantiga, Ben Chow/Nick Del Bianco
*Sam Schacter could also get into the mix, as he is currently solo following Martin Reader’s retirement.
WOMEN: Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas, Kacie MacTavish/Julie Rodrigue, Melissa Humana-Paredes/Taylor Pischke, Tori Cowley/Alex Mingay
Luckily for us Canadians, the NORCECA Tour has seen quite a few Canadians standing atop the podium in past years, so more and more teams could potentially be joining Liz and Heather on the World Tour.
Going for Gold in 2015
With Canada hosting the 2015 Pan American Games, Volleyball Canada has made it very clear that they will be expecting nothing less than Gold in Toronto.
The hiring of new National team coach Steve Anderson, an American who’s been coaching for the past 17 years in Australia, and has an Olympic Bronze (1996 Atlanta) and Gold (2000 Sydney) on his resume.
His job, it seems, won’t be about coaching one team to greatness, but rather Volleyball Canada is looking for him to bring the entire program to greatness through the grassroots development as well as coaching development.
Here's our latest podcast with Ed Drakich's interview at the 8:14 mark.