Don Fennell photo
The Richmond Olympic Oval provided the venue for Volleyball Canada’s first Centre of Excellence program last September. This week, Mayor Malcolm Brodie officially welcomed the senior women’s national team to its new training home.
“This is an exciting day for the city of Richmond and for Canada,” Brodie said Thursday during a press conference at the Oval, where he was joined by team captain Lucy Charuk in unveiling a mural and plaque to commemorate the occasion.
Brodie spoke enthusiastically about the partnership, suggesting it “will help to grow the sport in Richmond and throughout the country and enable our national women’s volleyball team to reach new levels of success on the road to Tokyo 2020 (Olympic Games).”
Volleyball Canada’s Centre of Excellence program at the oval has produced many positive results. Of the nearly 1,000 athletes to participate in the high-performance stream, more than 50 were named to provincial or national junior teams and 29 of those players are now playing at the post-secondary level. Brodie said it’s inevitable many will go on to try to earn a spot on a senior team.
Marcello Abbondanza, the newly-appointed head coach of Canada’s senior women’s volleyball team, told The Richmond Sentinel he was excited about his new position to which he was appointed in January.
“This is the first week so we have to understand, I have to understand, what the situation is,” he said. “But this is a great centre for us to work at, providing a lot of facilities (as the coaching staff looks to select a final team from tryouts).”
Once the team is finalized, it will concentrate its efforts on preparing for the FIVB World Grand Prix to be held at the oval July 21 to 23. The Grand Prix is one of the premier international women’s volleyball tournaments, which will feature six matches among four teams in Group 2—Canada, Germany, Peru and the Czech Republic.
“I’m really interested about the physical potential of this group of athletes,” said Abbondanza, who for the previous 20 years coached in Europe, most recently Italy’s Fenerbahce Spor Kulubu club.
“My focus (as a coach) has been especially as a tactical coach, but I think any team needs (both) tactical and technical (input),” he said. “Maybe with this team, especially in the first part, is for the players to understand the philosophy of volleyball.”