The Netherlands warms up for an innovative 2015 World Championships
For the first time in the history of the tournament it will be played in four cities and will feature a floating centre court.
This year promoter TIG Sports decided to use the 2014 Transavia Grand Slam powered by the Bas van de Goor Foundation as a try-out to see what would work and what adjustments are needed.
“Four cities will be very special. I don’t think this has ever been done before”, tournament director and former volleyball international Bas van de Goor said on Friday at the venue of the Transavia Grand Slam in Scheveningen.
“But it will also be a huge logistic challenge. Players will have to travel all around the country. Nations will come with more than one team but only one coach and might have to play on two different locations”, Van de Goor explained.
“That’s why this year we decided to do a try-out and spread the Transavia Grand Slam over multiple cities to find out what we will have to deal with next year.”
Initially all four of the World Championships cities, The Hague, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Apeldoorn, would join in this year but the Rotterdam location could not be cleared as yet. The Amsterdam venue, the historic Dam in the middle of the city centre was not available either, so the stadium was temporarily set up in the business district at Zuidas.
Amsterdam and Apeldoorn hosted four men’s and four women’s teams each for two days and after the pool phase all teams returned to Scheveningen beach in The Hague.
A quick evaluation presented some hick-ups, but overall Van de Goor is very satisfied with the way it turned out.
“We have the opportunity to learn from this year”, he said. “Of course there are some small details that need improvement. But this is the base. This year the other cities were like satellite venues, but next year we will have four triple-A venues. So I expect a true spectacle next year.”
Van de Goor has heard nothing but positives about the venue in Scheveningen. “Players come up to me to compliment me on the set-up we have created. I have talked to Norwegians, Brazilians, Argentines and old teammates. They really like the feel of playing in a village instead of four separate courts. That is great to hear.”
This concept will be copied to all of next year’s venues. All cities will have a beach village with shops, a beach bar, food stalls and big TV-screens to follow all the matches at the other venues.
According to Van de Goor the main reason for opting for four cities is to introduce beach volleyball to the people in the Netherlands. “That has been one of our main ambitions. A few years ago we only had a handful of beach volleyball clubs and now around 200 clubs. We aim to increase that number.”
“But we also want to show off our beautiful country by building stadiums at some of our most iconic places. We will play on the Dam in Amsterdam, we will build a fantastic floating stadium on the water of the Hofvijver in The Hague and two more in Apeldoorn, the volleyball capital of the Netherlands, and Rotterdam.”
The idea for a floating court originated in London two years ago. “We came up with this idea at the London Olympic Games. Buckingham Palace was the most fantastic background for a beach volleyball event we had ever seen. We wanted to do something similar.”
“The Hague is our beach volleyball city number one, our main events are always staged here and it is the home of the Dutch beach volleyball training centre. We knew our court for the finals should be here. With the Hofvijver we found a perfect location, on a pontoon with the parliament building in the background.”
The tenth edition of the FIVB World Championships will run from June 26 till July 5 next year. Each of the four cities will host 3 pools of each gender, meaning that each city will host a total of 24 teams.
All venues will have a stadium of 2000 seats, except the main stadium in The Hague, which can seat 5,500. A warm-up court is available next to each stadium. Near the city hotels two training courts are set up either in the parking lot or in the garden.
After the pool phase and quarterfinals all remaining teams will travel to The Hague for the semi-finals and finals in the 5,500-seat stadium on the Hofvijver. The tournament will be covered on national TV each day at prime-time (19.30-21.00).
Van de Goor: “The guys from promoter TIG Sports are very honourable people. They are really set on delivering a super event. I have all the confidence that we will do so next year.”