It is a privilege to be in Bahrain for the 15th edition of the FIVB Volleyball Boys’ U19 World Championship. Twenty of the world’s best teams in this age category will meet to battle for a medal, or even emulate 2015 winners Poland by claiming the title.
It is the first time that Bahrain has ever welcomed an FIVB competition, highlighting volleyball’s growing popularity in the region. It is the fourth time a Gulf country has hosted the U19 World Championship, with Dubai welcoming the inaugural event in 1989 followed by Riyadh in 1999 and Cairo in 2001.
The organisers know the importance of delivering top class facilities and structures, which allow the young players to focus on getting the most out of the experience and I am in no doubt that they will deliver on both fronts.
It is important to thank them for the continued support they provide our athletes while also ensuring other stakeholders, including fans, have an enjoyable experience.
Age group tournaments such as this one are an important stepping stone for many athletes looking to make it to the elite levels of volleyball. It gives them a platform to demonstrate their skills and show the world just how exciting the future looks.
There continues to be a burning desire for competitive volleyball around the world and at all ages. It is also the first chance these young athletes have at competing on an international level, and with that comes the development of strong relationships both on and off the court.
Of course, Poland will be under immense scrutiny, but with more and more teams from around the world taking their first step onto the podium in recent years, the reigning champions will need to be at their very best to defend their title.
I wish the very best of luck to all players and I look forward to seeing how your careers progress from here.
Dr. Ary S. Graça F°