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Keep The Ball Flying


The Virgin Islands has made a remarkable comeback in organized sports following the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. One of the more popular sports on the island – volleyball – was one of the many sports left homeless after the Multi-Purpose Sports Complex in Road Town suffered structural damages. In addition, the building was being used as a temporary shelter for people displaced from their homes after the passage of the two Category Five hurricanes.

In the direct aftermath of the hurricanes, many players were restricted to the beach and other makeshift courts to continue playing the game they love so dearly. Nonetheless, like the people of the Territory, volleyball is a resilient sport. Any avid player will tell you, only a ball and a net are needed to play the game. While both the Virgin Islands and organized sports were recovering from the hurricanes, the Power League Volleyball Tournament recommenced on a brand-new surface in the multi-Purpose gym and the ball has been flying ever since.

COVID-19 might have thrown some spooks into the wheels of the game, but people have once more become re-engaged in social volleyball and more organized leagues are forming; awakening patron’s lust for tasty spikes and last-ditch digs.

Earlier this year, the Virgin Islands Volleyball Association had its by-elections and installed a new President, Vice-President, and Treasurer. The Association is now looking forward to hosting the Men and Women’s Power League beginning at the end of February.

Just before the by-elections, the Association had the Industrial League which ran from October to December 2022. The Industrial League was a co-ed league which invited participants from corporate BVI and featured players of all ages and stages of their volleyball journey.

The 21 teams were split into two Divisions (A and B). Group A comprised of DYAS, VIST, The Moorings, ESHS, Walkers, BVIEC Shockers, It-Sets on the Beach, One Mart, RVIP Defenders, RTW Coca-Cola, Moorings Sea Rangers, and SDA Family Life. While Group B featured ATU Sere-Vivors, HLSCC Stingrays, CTL Up to the Code, Carey Olsen Serves You Right, Trident Block Party, BVITB, Harney’s Industry Setters, SCB Hawks, NBVI Cash-it, RB Blue Thunder and TMF Bombers. Tuesdays and Thursdays saw the multi-Purpose complex filled with people either watching or braving the courts.

The foundation for the advancement of volleyball in the Virgin Islands was laid as far back as September 2013 when the Virgin Islands Volleyball Association (VIVA) served up a donation of $3,000 worth of volleyball equipment to Physical Education teachers in the public school system. The items included ball carts, nets and special “light touch” volleyballs designed by Molten specifically for children under the age of 12.

In August 2014, a Coaching Course was designed to give participants a better understanding of how to teach, promote and develop the sport. The course was facilitated by Mr John Kessel, a Level IV instructor who served as Secretary of the International Commission leading to Level 1 International Certification. In December of the same year, the Virgin Islands saw a surge in the grassroots programme with nearly 50 young Volleyballers from several schools taking part in the first Virgin Islands Volleyball Association Volley Fest managed by Coach Jackie Weekes at the Multi-Purpose Sports Complex. The event was funded by Olympic Solidarity.

Between 2013 and 2016, the BVI was fortunate to partake in several tournaments. In August 2016, the Territory sent a team to the inaugural Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association (ECVA) Under-23 Women’s Tournament. In the same month, the Men’s Senior Team participated in the first round of the  Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) World Cup Qualifiers held in Marigot, St. Maarten. Recently in October 2022, the BVI captured a silver medal at the EVCA Senior Women’s Volleyball Championships in St. Maarten.

President of the Association Mr Willis Potter said he is confident that there is hope for the BVI to grace the world stage with the spates of talent on display at the complex with the right amount of grooming and discipline.

He said the work is being done to engage the various committees to create a structural frame to make this viable. He added that further dialogue has also begun with the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports to finesse the current structure of the grass league and bring a new focus to beach volleyball in the territory with the hope to compete in two years in various divisions. He continued to support the idea of volleyball creating avenues for athletes to obtain athletic scholarships as a contribution to sports tourism.

While volleyball has come a long way, there still have been some challenges in bringing it further. The main one is the availability of facilities. In previous years, each sporting discipline had a specific season. Now with the Sports Complex being the only indoor facility on Tortola, there is difficulty in planning and completing a league on time consistently.

Volleyball must compete with other sports like badminton, table tennis and basketball along with other numerous functions held in the complex during the year. Despite the new installation of an Air Conditioning Unit, the presence of mould in the facility is an inevitable factor.

The VIVA would love to see an increase in league sponsorship by corporate BVI to raise the profile of the sport. President Potter said the Association have already sent out letters soliciting sponsorship for the upcoming league. With the injection of funds, the hope is that more sister islands teams (Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke) can better be accommodated.

Additionally, the hope is to purchase other equipment for specialized training that could become a reality. Partnership with HLSCC to bring students from other colleges to the island to compete is also a part of the long-term vision for the goal.

Furthermore, the BVI Olympic Committee continues to be a faithful partner on this journey and is making every effort to serve as a liaison with international agencies to minimise the hurdles and provide access to training and certification.

The youths of the BVI are playing several hours of volleyball a week and this hands-on experience has improved their game.  Competition at the ongoing power league should be exciting.

Volleyball is a community activity, and as such, the entire family is invited to come and take part.  As long as you are mobile, there is something at volleyball for you to take part in and enjoy. There will be other activities to engage our youths.  Be a part of the committee. Get to know the names of the executives and come on board and work closely to rejuvenate volleyball in the Territory.