Sat | Dec 3, 2016

JaVA looking professionalise sport

Published:Thursday | April 23, 2015 | 12:00 AMShayne Fairman
Sasha lee Wallen
Kai Wright
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Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA) president, Rudolph Speid, says the ball is in his court to take a game viewed as recreational to a professional level.

"Volleyball is viewed as very recreational in Jamaica, and we (JAVA) are trying to professionalise it. This is the last year volleyball will be viewed as a recreational sport," Speid assured.

"We (JaVA) want to make it glamorous, professional and have sporting merit," he continued.

JaVA's current initiatives include registering the organisation as a limited liability company, plus the establishment of six parish associations - to decentralise the sport, which is largely based in Kingston and St Andrew.

The six parish associations are St James, Westmoreland, Hanover, St Elizabeth, St Thomas and St Catherine.

There is a volleyball premier league for male and females, which started in March and is slated to climax in July at the UTech Auditorium.

JaVA's thrust could go even further, with their hosting of the 2016 Olympic qualifiers and first Caribbean Beach Volleyball Championships for women, from May 1-3 at the Ocho Rios Bay Beach, St Ann.

At the championships, 14 Caribbean countries, 28 female teams and 56 players will do battle for a second-round ticket to qualify for Rio.

Jamaica's flag bearers are Sasha Lee Wallen and Kai Wright, along with Danielle Perry and Alicia Malcolm.

"I think people want something else. They are always looking for a new sport. Beach is a fun place, so beach volleyball will be an added attraction," he reasoned.

"We (JaVA) are spearheading a renaissance on the beach. We figure that beach volleyball can be easy to tie in with sports tourism," Speid added.

Volleyball, in its regular format, as well as beach volleyball, is played by 220 countries and an estimated 600 million worldwide, even at the Olympic level.

There is currently no ranking for Caribbean countries, and May's tournament will aid that process, besides being a first-round Olympic qualifier.