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FIVB President Graça ends successful USA visit


MINNEAPOLIS, United States, May 28, 2017 – FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° brought his visit to the US full circle on Saturday when he attended the country’s 2017 Volleyball Open National Championships - the largest national championships in any sport in the USA, and one which President Graça has competed in four times and won twice. 


This year’s tournament saw an astonishing 464 teams compete in various age groups and skill level brackets at the Minneapolis Convention Center.


A mainstay of the USA Volleyball (USAV) for over 80 years, the Volleyball Open National Championships brings together over 6,000 players, ranging from 18 to over 80 years old. In addition to the main event, men's and women's champions will also be crowned for the USA’s professional Premier Volleyball League, and Special Olympics and Sitting Volleyball championships will also take place. 


The size and success of this year’s event demonstrates the strength of volleyball in the USA and the excellent work that the USAV is doing. The strong foundations of the sport have resulted in considerable achievements from the men’s and women’s national teams in recent years. The women’s volleyball team are looking to defend their World Championship title in Japan next year after winning the championship in Italy in 2014, while the men’s and women’s volleyball teams and a women's beach volleyball team won bronze at Rio 2016.


Saturday’s tournament was a time for President Graça to reflect on his visit to the USA, where he has held several ground-breaking meetings with the USAV leadership team this week. The meetings, which were attended by USAV CEO Jamie Davis and the Board of Directors Chairman Lori Okimura, have discussed the importance of the two organisations working together to help the future of the sport as a whole.


Other key points of the meetings included President Graça’s pledge to make snow volleyball part of the Olympic Winter Programme, and increasing the number of women in leadership roles.


The latter is a point he has passionately repeated throughout his trip, and one which he believes the sport as a whole can improve upon:


“Women must participate in everything, they must come naturally. When I saw on top table of the USAV Board at our meeting that there were nine men and five women – I thought good but not enough! It must be 50-50. Women bring a new way of thinking and seeing things and I want to continue to work to bring more women to leadership roles in the sport.”


President Graça was also delighted with the mutual agreement between the FIVB and the USAV on his “historic trip,” that confirmed the two organisations are absolutely aligned and committed to the same cause. Moving forward, the USAV will be central to President Graça’s plans to take the sport to the next level and help volleyball achieve its ultimate goal of becoming the number one family sport in the world.


When asked what his favourite moment of the week had been, President Graça replied:


“There have been a lot of favourite moments, but most importantly was the moment that I realised that the USAV wants to be together with the FIVB and that we must work together because it is good for both of us. This for me was very touching.


“We love volleyball, we have a passion for volleyball and you are going to see the progress we will do, you are going to see the future.”