BANGKOK, Thailand, June 9, 2003 - Hosts Thailand will open the World Boys' Under-19 Volleyball Championship in Suphan Buri, Thailand on July 5 against North American champions Puerto Rico, following the drawing of lots on Monday.
The draw, chaired by FIVB's delegate Katsumi Wakao, for the nine-day championship, grouped Thailand, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and either the USA or Australia in Pool A, while 1999 world champions Russia, China, Egypt and Slovakia make up Pool B.
Group C comprises four-time world champions Brazil, Poland, Czech Republic and Asian champions India, while 1997 world champions Italy are in Pool D with The Netherlands, Iran and Morocco.
Aside from the Thailand-Puerto Rico match, the other exciting encounters on the opening day see Venezuela face either the USA or Australia, Slovakia take on China, Egypt play Russia, Poland meet India, Czech Republic face Brazil, Italy challenge the Netherlands and Morocco take on Iran. USA and Australia are the two options to replace the banned Argentina, on which a decision by the FIVB will be made soon.
Volleyball Association of Thailand's Foreign Affairs chairman Shanrit Wongprasert said Thailand have some big goals to attain.
"Thailand's goal in the championship is to finish top eight," he said. However, for us, a place in the top 12 is a job well done. This is a star-studded tournament where we will take on the other top 15 teams from around the world and I'm convinced it's not easy for every team to beat their rivals."
Thailand Tourism and Sports Ministry's Permanent Secretary-General Chadej Insawang said that the championship will help promote not only tourism in Suphan Buri and Thailand alike, but also the sport in the country.
"To host the world meet will help guarantee tourists that Thailand is a
SARS-free country. In addition, I'm quite optimistic that the excellent safety measure of Thailand will help raise confidence among tourists and attract a larger scale of them to visit the country," he said.
On Suphan Buri's preparation for the championship, its governor Vipat Kongmalai said that everything is all set for the opening on July 5. "I would like to thank FIVB and VAT to give us a chance to host the prestigious event. We are experienced hosting several international competitions and are well-prepared for the world meet," Vipat said. "We will try our best in making the tournament a memorable success. I do hope that to host the world meet will be a great asset to Thailand. From now on, the volleyball promotion would be significantly increased among Thai youngsters."
The 4,500-seating capacity Silapa-archa Gymnasium and the nearby
2,500-seater Princess Sirindhorn Gymnasium will serve as the two main competing venues for the 2003 World Boys' Under-19 Volleyball Championship plus four training arenas.