By: Everett Delorme
Volleyball Canada has announced that they will be taking the FIVB World League out west for the 2014 season, with matches in Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton. The men's National team will play 12 matches against Finland, Belgium and Australia during the Intercontinental Round that spans from May 23rd to July 6th.
Canada will open the World League against Finland on May 31st in Calgary at the Stampede Corral, with the second match slatted for June 1st. The team will then play Belgium in back-to-back weekends, travelling there first before returning to Vancouver to face them again at UBC's Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on June 13th and 14th. Canada's final match at home will take place at Edmonton's Rexall Place, where they'll at have a meeting with Australia on June 20th and 21st. They will then travel to Finland and Australia to finish out the remaining four matches on the schedule.
|Away Team||Home Team||Date||Location|
|Finland||vs.||Canada||May 31st & June 1st, 2014||Calgary, AB|
|Canada||vs.||Belgium||June 6th - 8th, 2014||Belgium|
|Belgium||vs.||Canada||June 13th & 14th, 2014||Vancouver, BC|
|Australia||vs.||Canada||June 20th & 21st, 2014||Edmonton, AB|
|Canada||vs.||Finland||June 27th - 29th, 2014||Finland|
|Canada||vs.||Australia||July 4th - 6th, 2014||Australia|
In the past few years, Western Canada has been extremely vocal about wanting more matches, specifically those of the World League. It's hard not to agree with them as attendance last year in Quebec and Ontario were mediocre at best, and attendance in 2012 was boosted by the fact that you had 800 club teams from across the country at the National Championships literally right next door.
We saw a small preview of what to expect when Langley hosted the 2013 NORCECA Championships, with a sold-out crowd of over 5,000 to watch the final between Canada and the U.S. in September. In addition, Canada West Schools typically host larger crowds than their OUA and RSEQ cousins.
Even without these reasons, it was time to take the show out west for the simple fact that the National team is just that - a National team. Seeing live volleyball is crucial to growing interest in the game, and creating that passion the younger generations who are taking their first tentative steps into the sport. As the World League continues to grow over the next few years, it would great to get the East Coast involved - maybe in a city like Halifax or Moncton?
Of course, the best way to ensure that the World League grows in Canada is to attend World League in Canada, so if you live in Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton, you best be marking these dates on the calendar, and get ready to cheer nice and loud.