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More than a silver medal, Team Belize’s volleyball victory is historic

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2018. 10:00 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: Belizeans at home and abroad cheered as the National Women’s Volleyball team bested our Central American neighbors in back to back victories at the Civic Center this week.

While many Belizeans celebrated and revered in the team’s victory, many who are not volleyball enthusiasts may not have realized that they witnessed history in the making. In a telephone interview with Breaking Belize News (BBN), President of the Belize Volleyball Association, Allan Sharp, explained today that Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Guatemala have held the top three spots in Central American volleyball for over eight years.

Sharp pointed out that Belize and Costa Rica were tied in games won, match points earned and sets won, and that Costa Rica only edged out Belize for first place by  0.1 in overall scoring average (ie. Total points scored by a team in all the sets divided by total points scored against that team). Costa Rica had not been defeated since 1999.

Despite the odds and mounting pressure, Team Belize managed to beat Costa Rica, Nicaragua and particularly Guatemala, one after the other, bringing Belizeans from all walks of life to celebrate their victory.

“Lately there’s been so much division in our country, especially with all the ICJ talks. It was great to see Belizeans coming together for a common purpose and remembering that at the end of the day we are all Belizeans,” Sharp told BBN.

He also pointed out that the victory came at a tremendous sacrifice for the women on the team. Sharp explained that more than half of the team are under the age of 23, many of them students, and all of them had to balance their work, school, and personal lives while showing up for practice six days a week for seven practice sessions from February to May. Around mid-May, the sessions were increased to 11 times a week, with only Sundays off.

Apart from rigorous on-court practice, the team also had to endure running track as well as weight training in preparation for the games. Through the support of various local sponsors, the association was able to double the number of coaches, and allocate additional resources for training. All this was to ensure that the team was at its peak for the tournament, which ended with the dramatic victory over Guatemala on Wednesday night.

Ian Jones, Director of the National Sports Council, commended the Belize Volleyball Association today, saying that they have set the example for other associations by investing in the youth in the years prior to the competitions, and this has led to the level of talent being displayed by the national team.

“It’s really an example that the Government of Belize (GOB) and National Sports Council needs to learn from and try to replicate throughout all disciplines,” Jones said.

Several of the team’s members are enrolled in schools abroad and came home at different times. This allowed them to get enough practice with their team members and were therefore available to play. They will soon depart for countries such as Barbados and Jamaica to resume their studies.

GOB is honoring the team with a motorcade on Monday.

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