Ponce, Puerto Rico, May 29, 2014 – After pulling off a
resounding straight sets (25-23, 25-21, 25-23) victory against hosts Puerto
Rico in the final of NORCECA Group R qualifying last Sunday to secure a spot at the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship Poland 2014, Mexico aims
to take another step forward in their long journey.
The Mexican team have directly qualified to the World Championship for the first time through the NORCECA third round qualification tournament. Their victory in the final match was very dramatic after having lost to Puerto Rico in straight sets in the preliminary round.
Now the Mexican Volleyball Federation has high hopes for their men’s team as they aim to be a major world player in volleyball by year 2030. Their winning men’s team, currently ranked No. 22 in the world, can be the ideal platform to push this objective.
“This win will promote volleyball in Mexico,” said the delighted Jesús Perales Navarro, president of the national federation. “This is an historic event for the country. This result will encourage more people to participate.”
The national federation worked hard to promote volleyball in Mexico, where people are predominantly obsessed with football. Major events have been targeted time and again in recent years, particularly focusing on the junior team. The most recent competition being the FIVB Volleyball U23 Men's World Championship. The investments in talent development and the attempts to increase public interest in volleyball are starting to pay off.
After securing a ticket to the World Championship in almost three decades via the playoffs in 2010, which resulted to a respectable 13th place finish, Mexico qualified directly this time.
“In the end, the boys took the experience and the desire to be in the World Championship,” said Navarro. “Thank God they managed to qualify directly for the first time. We do not have to worry right up to give the team some piece of mind on the lead-up to the World Championship.”
The perfect test and preparation for the World Championship will be their first-ever participation in the FIVB Volleyball World League. Their opponents in Pool F will be reigning World Championship runners-up Cuba and two teams who are also making their debut, Tunisia and Turkey. Mexico have home advantage in Group 3 of the Intercontinental Round, which will take place in the capital of Mexico City from June 6 to 8.
Mexico’s fifth appearance in the World Championship in Poland from August 30 to September 21, will prove much more of a challenge. It is likely that Mexico will face London 2012 Olympic gold medallists Russia, Bulgaria, Egypt and China in the preliminary round, which will be difficult to equal their best ever World Championship finish at tenth place which they achieved in 1974.
“We have a very good group of players who has a lot of potential,” Navarro confidently said. “I never imagined winning the way we did against a team like Puerto Rico on their own turf but the guys did their job and we accomplished our goal.”
Ivan Contreras, the legendary Mexican volleyball player, supported coach Sergio Hernández throughout the qualification tournament.
The team itself also thrives on the abilities of its members who are active in professional leagues overseas. Captain Carlos Guerra plays for Volleyball Chênois Genève in Switzerland, while other players are active in professional leagues in Belgium, Switzerland, Puerto Rico and Spain.
The Mexican team did not have much time to properly celebrate the historic victory. Some of their players are students who had to sit exams after their victory.
Navarro already has his next goal in sight – the NORCECA women’s playoff tournament in June – to decide which team gets the final ticket to the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship. Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua will take part in the playoff tournament.
Should the Mexican women’s team succeed in the playoff tournament, having both their teams in the World Championship is a great big step in Mexico’s long journey to becoming one of the best volleyball teams in the world.
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