By NAKAMPE LEKWADU
DURBAN will again prove their worth as South Africa’s tourism destination and this time when the city host the Volleyball Open World Series.
The competition to be played under the umbrella body of the Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) which will be hosted by Volleyball South Africa (VSA) and Promoters Geness Consulting in partnership with the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality was officially launched yesterday in a colourful event at the New Beach in Durban and was attended by the country’s heavy weights in the sports fraternity including The International Olympic Committee member, Dr Sam Ramsammy, SASCOC executive committee member Ms Hajera Kajee, the president of VSA Tubby Reddy and eThekwini Councillor, Zandile Gumede while Sports and Recreation Minister, Fikile Mbalula couldn’t make it to the event after missing his flight from Bloemfontein.
Tournament director, Gershon Roricha told Sports Focus that this 16-Nations competition will see 64 teams, 32 women and 32 men’s teams battling it out for the honour will be held at Durban’s New Beach from December 11-15.
“The tournament which is expected to attract the best beach volleyball stars on planet in both men and women will be played in a Group format which will see 8 pool of 4 teams in each group tackling each other in the knockout stages of which we will end up with three stages which will culminate into the semi-finals, then the final match,” explained Gerson.
Reddy was excited about the competition, saying:“We expect record crowds at this event. Beach volleyball is one of the fastest-growing sporting codes in South Africa and internationally. Its popularity was confirmed at last year’s London Olympics when it made headline news worldwide and took its rightful place in the top 10 of the best Olympic moments on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) website.” Nearly all the beach volleyball competitions at the Olympics were sold out and TV coverage of the matches received high ratings throughout the games.”
South African teams who finish at the top of the five-leg national circuit in both genders will automatically be entered in the international event. In the men’s section Grant Goldsmidt and Freedom Chiya as well Jerome Fredericks and Leo Williams are expected to qualify whilst in the woman’s section Palesa Sekhonyana and Randy Williams together with Judith Augostides and Kirsten Pocock will be strong contenders. The final national leg is scheduled for 6-8 December at New Beach, Durban.
Dr. Sheena Geness of Geness Consulting concluded: “Beach Volleyball is more than about the game itself, it is a benchmark for sports events in terms of entertainment, fan engagement, sponsorship activation, music and hospitality. The event is expected to offer a stellar attraction to Durban and its visitors with record holiday crowds expected to experience the suspense, exhilaration, action, crowd participation and world-class sporting environment that the event will deliver- free of charge to spectators. ”