Minister of Family, Youth Affairs, Sports and the Environment, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo (File Photo)

Volleyball as a sport has a particularly unique opportunity to further the development of our Caribbean countries.

This was the message from Minister of Family, Youth Affairs, Sports and the Environment, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, as she addressed spectators gathered, last night, at the opening ceremony of the 12th Volleyball Championships at the Wildey Gymnasium.

“This opportunity is in the potential of the Regional Volleyball Development Centre, one of only nine throughout the world, which was launched right here in Barbados, just a couple of metres away. This centre has been charged with the responsibility for being the sport’s development hub in the region, and has thus far hosted participants from as far away as Hawaii,” she explained.

Dr. Byer-Suckoo expressed pride that Barbados’ men’s team won the championships 10 times, while the women’s team won six times.

“This is an amazing feat for our country within the regional context, but I hope to see the day when that regional success can be translated to our participation at the NORCECA and Pan American levels,” she added.

“Further, when I note the increasing competition that our national teams face, it would be wonderful to see any of the Caribbean nations consistently ranked among the hemisphere’s top three participants, with the likes of Brazil, Cuba and the USA. That is not to say I would not prefer to see Barbados as that representative. Nevertheless, I believe that the Caribbean can be represented as a major force in the international volleyball arena, as our region’s athletes continue to shine on the world’s professional sport scene.”

Dr. Byer-Suckoo highlighted the pivotal role that sports have played in the development of societies throughout the region. “As a region, we have not realised the full value of our sporting resource, and this is a trend that I intend to reverse with the help of my regional colleagues,” she stated.

President of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association, Mushtaque Mohammed, spoke about the advancement of regional volleyball. “It is indeed my pleasure to stand here proudly and say, volleyball in the Caribbean has gained respect. We are now participating at higher international events, continental championships, Olympic qualifications, and next year, world qualification events,” he declared.

In praising the Barbados Volleyball Association (BVA), Mr. Mohammed said: “We are very pleased for your integral role in the development of the sport because you have held more events than any of the Caribbean teams, and you always come forward to our assistance.”

Mr. Mohammed thanked the President of the BVA, John Griffith, and his team, for their support of the sport. The Volleyball Championships will conclude on July 20.

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