Bermuda’s beach volleyball stars face the pros in tour debuts
Bermuda’s volleyball players will break new ground when they fly out to the Cayman Islands on Thursday.
Two male teams and one female team are off to take part in the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation Beach Tour, with the island being represented for the first time at the event, which starts on Friday.
With four teams split into four pools of four and the top two from each group going into the quarter-finals, Bermuda’s newbies are guaranteed at least three games against mostly professional players from countries including the United States, Canada and Mexico
For Brandon Sousa, 25, it is an exciting trip to be a part of and he is excited at the prospect of testing his skills against some elite-level opponents.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it and as it’s the first time Bermuda has competed in this tournament, it’s good experience for us,” Sousa said.
“We have a bit of an idea of what we’re up against. It will be a high calibre of play and a lot of the teams are actually world ranked. Bermuda does not have a ranking yet because we have never competed in a beach volleyball event but a lot of teams have been on the tour for quite some time so there are a lot of experienced players for us to face.
“This will be the first time for all of us at this level, some of the other players have participated in Island Games but we’ve never been up against people who are in most cases professional and do this for their livelihood.”
Armed with the knowledge of his opponents’ ability, Sousa is not setting high targets for himself and the other teams with the primary objective ascertaining where they stand in relation to elite-level teams.
“Our expectations are just to get as much experience as possible playing against these individuals,” he said. “We don’t expect to be a fairly high-performing team and compete for the medals, I think that’s fair to say.
“We’re expecting to have at least three games there and hopefully we can pull out a win in one of these games and progress to a quarter-final and go from there.”
With just two players on each side, there is no place to hide on a beach volleyball court and forming a good relationship with your partner is key to success. Sousa is paired with the experienced Ian Bucci and feels that they are well matched.
“I’ve played with Ian for quite some time indoors and now in beach,” Sousa said.
“Ian has a bit more experience on the beach than I do so having him is a big plus for me. He’s able to talk with me and guide me through a lot of the things going on. Ian is predominantly an attacker and blocker on the court and I’m a defender so those skill sets we possess mesh well with each other for us to perform efficiently.
Sousa grew up in a volleyball-playing family and it’s fair to say that his true passion for the sport has been passed down to him.
“My first international tournament came when I was 12 so I’ve been playing quite a long time at international level but I’ve been playing since I was a young kid,” Sousa said. “My mother was on the Bermuda national team for quite a while and I’m following in her footsteps.
Sousa’s love of beach volleyball is what drives him to train pretty much every day with his life revolving around work and trips to the beach.
“I work for the government in the economic development department,”Sousa said. Volleyball is something I enjoy and I’m passionate about. Me and my partner, as well as the other teams, are down at the beach for 5.30pm after work and we train until the sun doesn’t allow us to train any more. Then on the weekends at 8.30am, I’m down on the beach, so I’m there as much as possible getting the reps in and focusing on my job during the day.
Bermuda’s other squad members are Lisa LeBlanc, Allison Settle, Kyle Hamilton and Ryan Davies. Those interested in following their progress can visit Norceca.net.