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800 amateur teams compete at Canadian Open Volleyball Championships

05-18-2012 09:30 BJT

TORONTO, May 17 (Xinhua) -- A total of 800 amateur teams are competing at the 2012 Canadian Open Volleyball Championships, the largest sporting competition of its kind in Canadian history.

The tournament is set to kick off on Thursday in downtown Toronto's Direct Energy Centre.

For six straight days, volleyball teams from across Canada will be spiking volleyballs over the nets of 54 courts in the 32,000 square meters trade center. Its grey concrete halls were draped wall to wall with white nets to accommodate the two tournament waves that were underway.

The event, unprecedented in size and scale, is organized by Volleyball Canada, the governing body for the sport in the country. The association first began planning for the tournament in 2008, as a way of bringing the popular sport to the forefront, since it seldom receives the same media coverage and publicity as basketball, baseball, or the overexposed hockey.

"I think volleyball in Canada is really a growing sport," said Meaghan Green, national events coordinator for Volleyball Canada. As a sport, it enjoys a thriving participation from girls in their teens, she explained, and "(they) are seeing it as an opportunity to find the sport they can excel in."

Over the course of an entire Victoria Day extended weekend, from May 17 to May 22, the association is projecting a 45,000 overall turnout of athletes, officials, organizers, volunteers and spectators. Thursday alone saw 684 teams competing in over 150 games.

In total, there are 14 match categories for the approximate 10,000 players ranging from 12 to 65 years of age.

"Right now we have 350 volunteers," Green said. "We have approximately 100 to 150 here a day, Saturday we' ll have about 200. So it takes a lot of manpower (to run the event)."

A way off from the hustle and bustle of the courts, Normand Bouchard, coach of the girls' volleyball team from Sherbrooke, Quebec, gives an impassioned pep talk to his team. Despite having two victories earlier on the court, Bouchard felt his young team, with an average age of 15, wasn' t playing to its best.

"We did well," he said. "We won our first two games. The third game is still a little bit nervous."

Still, Bouchard finds the event a great learning experience for the girls.

"We see a lot of players, good volleyball from every court," Bouchard said. "It's fun to see teams from Alberta, from Sherbrooke, from New Brunswick. So having a real Canadian volleyball championship ... it's really fun."

Unlike competitions from previous years, which are spread out in different locations in east and west side of the country, the 2012 Canadian Open Volleyball Championships creates a single space for volleyball players to come together and play the sport they love side by side.

"I think it's going great," said Green, over a salvo of volleyball whomps in the backdrop. "When the first whistle blew this morning, my heart kind of starts beating so fast, cause I saw everything was underway and I think the athletes are having fun and that's really what matters to us."

Volleyball Canada is hoping to host future Open Volleyball tournaments in four to five-year rotation, the next being around 2015.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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