T&TVF, UTT renew partnership for three years

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, March 10, 2022 - The T&T Volleyball Federation and the University of T&T have renewed their partnership with the signing of a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreement until 2025 under the theme ”One Volleyball”.


The signing of the MOU by T&T Volleyball Federation (T&TVF) President, Daymian Stewart, and University of T&T (UTT) President Professor Prakash Persad took place at the Foyer of the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Frederick Street.


It will be the second such MOU between both entities and comes on the heels of the conclusion of the first partnership signed in 2019 that ended mid-December last year.


Back then, the first MOU was signed by UTT's then general secretary Aaron Pollard and former T&TVF boss Mushtaque Mohammed, currently president of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA), NORCECA vice-president and executive member of the FIVB.


Speaking at the signing Stewart said, "The MOU which begins from March 11, 2022, and runs until March 2025 will cover the entire 2024 Paris Olympic Volleyball Qualifying process as well as the end of my term as an executive member of the T&TVF."


He explained that "we get support from UTT in terms of everything we do in terms of medical, use of facilities, as well as all the support services and when you have a national program some of the things we have complained about over the years about that have been missing like a therapist and nutritionist but having UTT partnering with us, we have access to these things that we would normally go and purchase because of the lack of or type of lack of funding we have."


"So having the MOU is putting things in black and white so in case Mr. Clement Imbert leaves the job or the President leaves the job there will be something there in writing that allows this partnership to continue because investments were made."


"To be honest we went to an FIVB World Championship and it's on the back of UTT and the Sports Company of T&T (Sportt), and it's because of that support we get. Sometimes it's not necessarily cash, but for years they (UTT) would have paid coach Francisco "Panchee" Cruz salary to coach our team, so it's really putting that document in place to make sure it continues.


"We are very excited about the way forward because. When you look back and see that we had an opportunity of doing an entire journey from zero to a World Championship, and now look back and see what you can do differently so it doesn't take 12 years again to qualify.


"In looking back we had a problem with our base as we produce very talented athletes but the numbers training on the national team and the base is too small, so we have to widen the base.


To help with this increase in the talent pool, Stewart announced that having had a consultation with the local clubs, the establishment of the 12 Development Centers across the country will see the clubs and the T&TVF recruiting the new wave of talents via the schools and different communities alongside Outreach Coachings programs with the T&T Police Youth Clubs.


"And what we have done to attract new players as well as to provide free training for the next three months as it already sponsored by the Office of The Prime Minister to the sum of TT$105,000 while NORCECA is providing all the equipment for TT$140,000 each year, so all the parents have to do is to get their child to a Training Centre which is close to them."


"We decided to broaden the number of centers with the Covid-19 virus in mind as some persons may be afraid to travel, but we have established centers all across the country from Mayaro to Port-of-Spain while the training in each center will be duplicated as well."


The Development Centers will be located in Port-of-Spain & Environs, St George East, Caroni, North East, Victoria, St Patrick, South East, and Tobago.


Stewart noted that as part of the programmes players from the Development Centers will also be targeted for national youth teams selection.


"To pick a national junior team now we are going to have a Development Festival where each Development Centre will have to come and compete and the national selectors will be there looking at the children and then we will bring the talented players together to train and compete as a national team, but the training and development will take place out there in each center."


"As an incentive from our research, there is a saying that when you have an under-age national team you get it correct ten percent of the time, meaning ten percent of those athletes go on to represent your national senior team because some players have late development.


"So what we have done to avoid the politics in the national coaching selection we will reward the winning Development Centre coaching staff with the national coaching appointment, so it will not be in the national executive hands, but will be settled on the court.


In saluting the establishment of the Development Centers, Mohammed said the T&TVF had earned the right to be provided with support for its programs by the FIVB and NORCECA because of its development efforts and achievements of their teams. 


Dickson, Nassier appointed senior team coaches


President of the T&T Police Service Social and Welfare Association (T&TPSSWA) Gideon Dickson has been appointed senior men's national volleyball coach for the upcoming season while Peer Nassier was named senior women/Under-23 women coach by T&TVF First Vice-President, and former national captain Nolan Tash.


Both Dickson, who has served in the position for numerous years and led the national team to CAZOVA triumphs in 2010and 2014, and Nassier, a former national junior, and youth men's coach will work in conjunction with Cuban-born Francisco 'Panchee" Cruz, the former T&T senior women's national coach who returns in the role of FIVB Development Officer after being at the helm of the women's team for over a decade and capturing no fewer than six Caribbean titles as well T&T's first FIVB Grand Prix, and World Championship appearances.


Cruz’s return was made possible through the efforts of  International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) executive vice-president Mushtaque Mohammed, a former T&TVF president, and UTT.


Cruz served as the national senior women’s coach from 2005 to 2019 before picking up Developmental duties in the Caribbean, only to return as national coach in April 2020 until last September. 


Tash in announcing the coaches said it was indeed a very exciting day for the sport of volleyball with the experienced trio selected to lead in their respective roles.


Mohammed, president of CAZOVA was full of praise on the appointment of the coaches and urged the local sporting body to strive to be sustainable.


Busy 2022 for national beach volleyball, indoor teams


Looking ahead to the international season, Stewart, a member of the CAZOVA Beach Volleyball Commission noted that it is expected to be a very busy year for T&T volleyballers both on the beach court, and indoors as well.


According to the T&TVF boss, the local federation will host two legs of the inaugural Caribbean Beach Volleyball Tour, an Under-23 age-group competition that will form part of the qualification process for the next Pan American Youth Games.


Stewart noted that the T&TVF is working on hosting one leg in both Trinidad and Tobago each between August 19-21 and 26-28 with all the countries in the NORCECA region eligible to participate.


In addition, the T&TVF are hoping to take on the mammoth task of hosting the Under-18, Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 Caribbean Volleyball Championships all together which will crown the region's Juniors (Under-21 men and Under-20 women), as well as Under-19 Men and Under-18 Women champions respectively.


All 14 members of CAZOVA are eligible to participate in the Youth and Junior events which are expected to take place at the National Cycling Center in Balmain, Couva from July 22 to August 2.


And finally, the staging of a Senior Beach Volleyball Tour in T&T, but open to regional players.

Internationally, T&T is expected to participate in the NORCECA FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship Qualifiers in the Dominican Republic (April 15-17) from which the top teams for four places per gender to the June 7-19 Championships in Rome, Italy.


The Commonwealth Games is slated for Birmingham, England from July 28 to August 8 and according to Stewart, based on T&T's current ranking as the highest English-speaking team for both women and men in the CAZOVA region, T&T, will be among the qualified teams as well as host a qualifier for top-ranked teams.


In addition, T&T teams are also expected to compete on the NORCECA Continental Beach Tour as well as the CAZOVA Beach Volleyball Tour, with dates and venues yet to be released.


In terms of Indoor competitions, T&T, along with Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico are expected to compete for one spot to the Nation League, which replaces the FIVB Grand Prix while the CAZOVA Under-18, Under-19, Under-20, Under-21, and Under-23 competitions are all on the calendar as well.


The Under-23 men and women tournament will take place in Suriname, with all others carded for T&T. Among those at the signing of the MOU were T&T Olympic Committee president, Brian Lewis, Ian Pritchard, Senior Manager Sports and Recreation of UTT, Merlin Remy, T&TVF General Secretary.