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