The stage is set for future stars of men’s volleyball to showcase their talents as the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship kicks off today.
Eight matches will be played on the opening day at the Bahrain Volleyball Association (BVA) and Bahrain Table Tennis Association arenas at Shaikh Isa Sports City in Riffa. All are invited to attend the games. Entry is free.
Matches kick off at 11.30am with Cuba taking on Korea and Iran facing off with Tunisia. They will be followed at 2pm by Argentina playing Egypt and Russia battling the Czech Republic. At 4.30pm, Morocco and China play in one game while Poland and Brazil go head to head in the other. The day’s final two contests, starting no earlier than 7pm, will be between Bahrain and Puerto Rico and Italy and Canada.
Today’s games are part of the tournament’s first round, which continues until Saturday.
As part of the lead-up to the world championship, a press conference was held yesterday at Gulf Court Hotel in Sanabis. Head coaches of various national teams were on hand to speak about their preparations and expectations ahead of the start of play.
Head coach Bakiewicz Michal of defending champions Poland said that his team was eager to get things going on the court. Despite having a completely different squad from the one that won the title two years ago, he was confident that his boys could mount a challenge once again.
“I am very happy because we can start to play tomorrow,” Michal said. “We have a very hard tournament. We have very strong teams in our group and will need to play at a high level. We have respect for each team but I am sure we are ready to play 100 per cent.”
Brazil head coach Farinazzo Gavio Giovane expressed similar sentiments. He said, “I think all teams in this tournament are at the same level. We worked very hard to be here and want to be in the final. I am very happy to be in Bahrain and good luck to all my colleagues.”
Iran head coach Ataei Nouri Behrouz said: “I am very happy to participate in this tournament. We hope to have good matches and play together and learn new things about volleyball.”
Prior to yesterday’s press conference, the general technical meeting took place at the same venue. Amongst those in attendance were Executive Committee chairman and BVA vice-president Jehad Khalfan, Control Committee president Slobodan Milosevic from Serbia, and other officials from the tournament’s various committees.
In the preliminary round, the 16 participating under-21 national teams have been divided into four groups of four each. Pool A consists of China, Morocco, Puerto Rico and hosts Bahrain, while Pool B is composed of Cuba, Argentina, Egypt and Korea. Pool C includes Russia, Iran, the Czech Republic and Tunisia, while Pool D features Italy, Canada, Brazil and Poland, who are the defending champions.