ACKNOWLEDGED by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) for its 50-year membership at the 33rd Congress in Anaheim, California last week, the Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA) has expressed a determination to make the local game big in eight years.
JaVA president Major Warrenton Dixon, accepting that Jamaica should have achieved more during the half century, insisted the association was "heading in the right direction".
"It's my intent to see volleyball transformed into a major sport in Jamaica by the year 2020. Our founders and predecessors did their time on court and have subbed this generation of administrators into the game. It's now our turn to win this set and prepare the way for the next generation," Dixon stated.
He paid tribute to the founding fathers of the sport, noting the association became a member of the FIVB in 1961 after it was introduced in the island by Roy Matthews and W Fred Green two years earlier.
Jamaica competed internationally for the first time in 1962 in the Caribbean Games.
The country has since participated in the Caribbean Volleyball Championships and other regional competitions, with best-place finishes as runners-up in both male and female categories.
In the early 1990s, JaVA amended its constitution and the name the Jamaica Amateur Volleyball Association (JAVA) was changed to the Jamaica Volleyball Association (JaVA) to allow all players, amateur and professional, to be covered under the local umbrella.
JaVA did, in fact, celebrate its 50th year of membership with the FIVB with the successful staging of the 8th Caribbean Junior Men Volleyball Championships in 2011.
Meanwhile, JaVA expressed its delight at the election of South American and Brazilian head, Dr Ary Da Silva Graça, as the fourth President of the FIVB.
Brazilian Graça defeated Douglas Peter Beal of the USA and Chris Cleland Schacht of Australia in a keenly contested election.
Graça tallied 103 votes to Beal's 86 and Schacht 16, out of the 206 votes that were cast, including two spoilt ballots.
During his campaign, Dr Graça promised speedier growth of categories one and two national federations by the establishment of dedicated volleyball facilities and development of beach volleyball programmes, among other things.
Major Dixon noted that Jamaica's greatest need at this juncture was for suitable and readily accessible training facilities.
"North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) has started the work with the gift of the outdoor facilities at the National Stadium, but to be of greatest utility at the top level we need the area covered so that we can get the smoother indoor surface for national and international level activities. I therefore hope our new president will find the necessary financial support to execute his stated intent," the local head pointed out.
Dr Graça takes over the reigns of the FIVB from Jihzong Wei of China, who served as president of the world governing body for the past four years and did not seek re-election. Mr Wei was appointed Honorary Life President of the FIVB.