Bajans off to reclaim CVC title
BOB MARLEY’S Redemption Song should be reverberating loudly in the heads of Barbados men’s volleyballers when they leave for Suriname tonight to attempt to reclaim the Caribbean Volleyball Championship (CVC).Fans bitterly remember one year ago when the entire nation was plunged into unbelievable shock after Barbados failed to win the CVC crown for the 11th successive outing when Martinique surged from game and match point in the third set to defeat the Bajans in five sets. Ironically, Martinique will not be defending their title in the South American country where the first CVC was held in 1991.Even more ironic is the fact that Barbados will be fielding its weakest ever team at such a tournament with a number of key players missing for various reasons. Former MVP Renier Grace has retired from national duty leaving the team after making his debut in 1996. Jamal Nedd and Shawn Simpson could not make the tour.That trio leaves the team short of height at the net, experience and power. The 11th hour withdrawal of middle player Damien Danzel also puts coach Ludger Niles in a quandary with just six-foot-six Romel Agard being the genuine middle in the squad.Long-serving coach Niles is still hopeful of making the finals where he can then make a bid to regain Barbados’ dominance in regional volleyball. “I agree that the team is not as strong as before but we have been training very hard from January and our first goal is to go pass Trinidad and Tobago, Netherlands Antilles, and Guadeloupe to make the finals.“Once we advance to the finals I am confident that we can regain the CVC crown,” Niles stated.The Netherlands have always been a problem for Barbados, and the Bajans have just returned from the CAC where they lost in straight sets to Trinidad and Tobago who will have all of their experienced players.Barbados’ chances will rest with the evergreen Elwyn Oxley and the talented Fabian Cox, who must realize the promise that he often shows.The setting and determination of Dale Addison will be needed to carry the less experienced Torand Cheltenham, Sheldon Roach, Aidium Cobham, Akeem Payne, and libero, Rico Brathwaite.The other group comprises host Suriname, The Bahamas, Jamaica and French Guiana. The Bahamas and Jamaica have beaten Barbados in preliminary matches in the past.Full squad: Elwyn Oxley (captain), Fabian Cox, Dale Addison, Alain London, Akeem Payne, Torand Cheltenham, Rico Brathwaite, Aidium Cobham, Romel Agard and Sheldon Roach, Ludger Niles (head coach), John Stuart (assistant coach), Anthony Nicholls (manager).