By Neto Baptiste
Coach of the national under-21 volleyball team, Olsen Joseph, believes that a number of factors played against the team’s chances going into the recent ECVA (Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association) Championships hosted here last week.
Joseph, a senior national player, listed work and educational commitments amongst the main factors, which may have distorted the preparation of the players.
“Leading up to the tournament the Carnival season, CXC [examinations] and there were a lot of things that hampered operations but we didn’t make that an excuse because all of the countries had that scenario, but I guess we had it more because our Carnival just finished. Some of the guys had work where they got a little summer job and they decided to work and make some extra cash to prepare for school and stuff like that,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda finished third in the tournament with St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines finishing first and second, respectively.
Joseph said he was hoping for a more all-round performance from all involved during the tournament.
“We hope next time the guys will come out and do better, play a bit harder and realize they are playing for country, you are playing for yourself so you need to come with that fire and that determination because other [teams] are coming in here with that. It’s an everybody scenario, the fans, the parents, the coaches, the association and everybody plays a part in getting a junior team especially as they need more support than the seniors,” the coach said.
The coach believes the light at the end of the tunnel is that the nucleus of the team will remain intact over the next few years, as the average age of the players is way below that of the tournament.
“We’ll probably just be losing about three of the players because we have players ranging from 13 and 15 years old, so there are a lot of young players on the squad as well so we will have them for at least another four years to compete in this competition so we will be more advanced when that time comes around,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda lost three straight matches in the tournament and were relegated to the bronze medal position, while missing out on an opportunity to compete at the 2020 NORCECA Championships.