Trinidad and Tobago’s women’s volleyball team became the first English- speaking Caribbean country to qualify for a FIVB World Championship tournament after placing in the top two of Pool C at the recently concluded 2018 World Championship Qualifiers NORCECA Continental at the National Cycling Centre, Couva.
National coach Francisco Cruz is not resting on his laurels, though, acknowledging the historic nature of their achievement but insisting they need to raise their level to make an impact in Japan.
“To go to Japan and compete, more hard work is needed because the level to the other teams in the world is very high. I am really happy but we need better conditions to prepare for Japan. The coaches of other countries have millions of ladies to select from, for me I don’t have much more than 12 players. We need a talent identification programme in the schools to look for more players, because on my team if one player is injured, our team we are affected badly,” Cruz said.
The World Championship is the second most prominent competition in volleyball after the Olympic Games and the national team’s qualification has been hailed by all stakeholders given the limited resources they have had to work with.
Minister of Sport Darryl Smith was present at the Cycling Centre to support the national team for two of their three matches, and upon qualifying for the World Championship, he assured the Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation (TTVF) and the players that they have his backing from now until Japan and guaranteed that things will improve. The Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central has asked the TTVF to draft a budget and a meeting will be held in a week’s time to plan the next step. He admitted that he had little knowledge about the sport of volleyball previously but he is very much interested now because of their stellar showing.
A hopeful TTVF president Nicole Selvon said, “We have to up our game now. We have been supporting our national team all the time, now we have to make further preparations. So we are going to hit the ground running to make sure everything is in place for them to be successful and be well-prepared for Japan in 2018.”
Looking to the future, the national women are keen on securing a permanent home for volleyball to increase training time.
In order to compete against the better teams in the world, they said more practice matches are needed against quality opposition. They have also indicated that having full-time staff members such as physiotherapists, physical trainer or even a psychologist will be a boost to the team.