European-based T&T senior professional volleyball quartet, Krystle Esdelle, Channon Thompson, Sinead Jack and Marc-Anthony Honore will be the marquee players when the Flow-sponsored T&T Volleyball Federation Premier League serves off next week.
A former national senior women’s team captain Esdelle is based in Romania while Thompson is in Turkey, and Jack plies her trade in Russia, and Honore, the lone men’s player on a professional contract, currently is based in Germany.
However, on completion of their European seasons, the players are all expected to don the colours of their local clubs for the respective nine-team men and seven-team women’s Premier Division which is set to conclude in the second week of May with an overall prize package of $240,000.
The trio of Esdelle, Jack, and Thompson will suit up for the University of T&T, third last year while Honore is attached to Southern United.
Leading the contingent of locally-based players are reigning Senior Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) Men’s Championship “Most Valuable Player” Simon Blake.
Blake who is also part of the national beach volleyball team (Daneil Williams/Fabien Whitfield and Simon Blake/Christian Francois) who got silver in the Second Round of NORCECA Continental Olympic Qualifiers in Antigua last month to book a Third Round birth helped Technocrats to the crown last year over bitter rival Glamorgan.
However, the Toco-born Blake has returned to his home club, Toco Youths Volleyball Academy and will link up with Whitfield, Williams, Colin Bernard and Kareem Thomas, all well known beach volleyballers to try and unseat Technocrats.
Technocrats will instead feature a host of young talent led by national players Marlon Phillip, Nicholas Prescott and Newton Grant, the club captain and former national youth skipper as well. The league will serve off with a double-header at the Central Regional Indoor Sports Arena, Chaguanas on Tuesday
The men’s tournament will comprise defending champions Technocrats, BIG South East Port-of-Spain (SEPoS), Challengers, Defence Force, Glamorgan, Southern United Volleyball Academy, Titans, Toco Youths Volleyball Academy and T&T Development Academy.
And in the Women’s Premier Division, title-holders Glamorgan, BIG SEPOS, Southern United Volleyball Academy, Technocrats, University of T&T (UTT), West Side Stars and T&T Development Academy will do battle.
In a release to the media, Daymian Stewart president of the T&TVF said that all involve in the sport can testify to the evolution they have witnessed in all aspects of our daily lives and it would be very strange that the national volleyball tournaments would remain the same year after year, with us all expecting bigger prizes, more games, quality officiating, increased spectatorship and good publicity.
He added, “To achieve these objectives certain changes had to be made to systematically improve our local leagues.
“The divisions as we knew it were dismantled and a new combination released. This year’s Premier League the new brand for what we knew as the ‘A’ Division is poised to be the best local volleyball tournament ever held in this country. Games will be played in every venue in Trinidad over fifteen weeks. “
Looking ahead to the start of the tournament, Stewart, a NORCECA Beach Commission Member FIVB Technical Supervisor, added, “Sixteen teams with over 300 players have registered for our highest level local tournament, The volleyball fanatics can’t wait to see our best athletes do battle for quarter million dollars in prizes, and very soon foreign players will join our league.
Stewart also brough greetings from President Ary Garcia (FIVB) who is poised to lead volleyball for the next eight years as his vision and nine goals are only achievable if developing nations as ours continue to reach beyond our limits. President Cristobal Marte-Hoffiz (NORCECA) and President Mushtaque Mohammed (Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association) continues to be there for us and T&T volleyball under my watch would continue to demonstrate its gratitude.
The T&TVF boss, who is also a CAZOVA Executive Director also thanked local partners, Ministry of Sport Youth Affairs, Sport Company of T&T (SporTT), T&T Olympic Committee (T&TOC), Flow, University of T&T (UTT) and Blue Waters are all in full support of this league and the underlined objective to showcase our sport and it’s best players athletes.
Last night, the Technical Meeting for all participating clubs was expected to take place at Chaguanas ahead of next Tuesday’s opening double-header, a repeat of last year’s men and women finals between Technocrats and Glamorgan from 7pm.