The Belize’s Under-18 Female Volleyball team came home yesterday bearing silver from Costa Rica. The team placed second in the championship and had quite the welcome at the airport. Love Reporter, Naim Borges, caught up with the team as they touched down in Belize and filed this report.
The Belize U18 Female Volleyball team celebrates as they came home as the sub champions of the U18 Central American Female Volleyball Championship. Apart from winning their silver medals the team also won seven out of the twelve individual awards. Gareth Bruce won best scorer and best attacker. Sofia Solano won best libero and best defensive player. Iman Safa won best setter, Oliva McKenzi won best blocker and Jayda Smith won best receiver. Here is what some of the members from the team had to say about their experience.
Gareth Bruce, Team Captain: “We feel very accomplished from all the past tournaments. We lost everything but even with the second place I think we’re quite proud. We’re quite happy.”
Jayda Smith, Team Member: “I think we definitely had the skills and consistency because out of twelve awards we won seven of them. I think we just weren’t prepared mentally to face Costa Rica. I think they had a huge shock factor as a team and we just weren’t ready to face that.”
Sofia Solano, Team Member: “On a couple of the first days they didn’t have a lot of fans that were really cheering for them and we didn’t feel intimidated by them but on the last day they did bring out their fans a little bit but I don’t think that affected us. I think it was more us as a team our mentality we weren’t prepared enough to face them with our full potential, instead we only used our partial skills as a team.”
Olivia McKenzie, Team Member: “I think if we keep our team right here we have a huge chance of winning because we’re already a strong team we were just kind of pushed back with our mentality but now we’ve seen it already and we got it and I think we could win them.”
Iman Safa, Team Member: “I feel that our hard work really did pay off and that we did what we were supposed to do and we really did play hard and we fought how we were supposed to fight.”
Naim Borges, Love FM News: The force behind the team is the incredible Lupita Quan who has invested everything she can into the team. According to Quan these young girls are gaining more court experience which in return gives them confidence.
Lupita Quan, Team Coach: “We could have won but what I also understand is that there were certain things that happened during that game that changed the results of that game. You all saw that Gareth pulled up with a bit of a sprained ankle and you know just the mental part of getting her able to jump again that took a bit of time; we taped her up and all that and she was good to go but mentally I think she was thinking about not landing on it so she did a lot of half jumps and she wasn’t full out but after the morning practice the following day we taped her up, we told her to test it, she felt comfortable and the next night she was good as new so that affected a part of it. I think having their best player playing halfway you know didn’t help us, a couple other people could have stepped up but that was kind of hard to ask of a young team. The couple players that we expected to step up that was their real first time on a big stage so I’m not finding excuses but these are some of the things we have to learn by and other players have to understand that when their moment comes up they just have to be ready and step up to the plate and do what they can do to contribute.
Naim Borges, Love FM News: “Prime Minister Dean Barrow was also at the Phillip Goldson International Airport to show his support for his daughter, the youngest player on the team, Salima Barrow. According to the PM Belize was the best team at the championship.
Rt.Hon.Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Absolutely proud, proud of her, proud of the team and you know we dah kriol and I have to say that they were the best team in the tournament and it was absolutely inexplicable that they lost to Costa Rica because they’re a better team than Costa Rica and if you need evidence look at how they dominated the individual prizes; best libero, best attacker I don’t have to go into I know you’re an expert so.
Salima Barrow, Team Member: “I feel very proud of my team mainly I think because everyone worked together and put in so much effort and we trained very long for this tournament and in the end we were successful and I’m also proud of myself because I did train hard and I got to play and I did what I learned in the gym.”