WESTERN BUREAU:Jamaica's top male beach volleyball pair, Gatasheu Bonner and Ryck Webb, will be in action at the first staging of the Jamaica Amateur Volleyball Association (JaVA) endorsed Linkz FM Beach Volleyball Party Weekend, set for October 19-21 at Long Bay Beach, Negril.
The pair, who have been at the peak of their game over recent months, will be joined by pairings in both the male and female categories by players from a number of countries, including the Cayman Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos, and will battle a number of Jamaica's top teams for the US$6,000 in awards and prizes that will be on offer.
Local participation will come from Venus Volleyball Club, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and G.C. Foster College.
Participation is not only limited to established club teams, as disclosed by organiser Roger Allen of Linkz 96FM, whose vision it is to foster growth in the country's fledgling sports tourism infrastructure, but also to self-styled players, who can get an actual piece of the action with a registration fee of $1,500 per person.
"It's really a sports carnival, which will help to attract visitors to Negril in large numbers, as we look to create a beach volleyball destination right here in Negril," said Allen.
"This is a great way of showing to the world that Jamaica is more than, athletics, sun, sea and sand; that we are able to use our natural resources to benefit and develop our country and the people," he said, adding that the beach volleyball tournament is ideal for the furtherance of Jamaica's effort to become a solid sports tourism destination.
"As you know, music and sports go hand in hand, so the plan is to intersperse volleyball action with music during the break after each matchup," Allen said.
Allen told Western Sports that there are plans to establish beach-type volleyball courts at two of western Jamaica's top schools, to help foster the sport's development and to inculcate a greater appreciation for the sport, which could be a major source of revenue over the long term in the lucrative sports tourism market.
Manning's School in Savanna la-Mar, Westmoreland, and Cornwall College in Montego Bay, St James, will be the two schools to benefit.
JaVA president, Major Warrenton Dixon, who is in support of the tournament, said that while the event itself would have long been gone after Monday's final day, it was the partnership that is important.
"This is very significant; we will always have beach volleyball, but it is the level of partnership that is forged that will last and it is an absolutely important element in bringing the sport to the schools," said Major Dixon.
"There is a need to get beach volleyball into our high schools and to create this at two of the country's top high schools is very important and one that we (JaVA) are in agreement with."