Lausanne, Switzerland, November 29, 2016 - Just one year after the country's women's volleyball team's first participation in an Olympic tournament, Argentina will host the 2017 edition of the FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship from August 18 to 27 for the first time.
Argentina has established itself as a powerhouse in the men's game and hosted the FIVB Volleyball Boys’ U19 World Championships for the second time in four years in 2015. Cheered on by thousands of fans, the hosts reached the final, where they lost to Poland in five sets. The Argentinean girls would obviously love to achieve a similar success next year, but have yet to finish higher than eighth in nine appearances (2005 and 2011) and were tenth in 2015.
A total of 20 teams will qualify for the 2017 Girls' U18 World Championship, including six countries from the European Volleyball Confederation, four from the Asian and North, Central American and Caribbean (NORCECA) Confederations, three from South America, and two from Africa. Argentina qualify automatically as the competition hosts. Brazil and Peru were the latest teams to qualify for the World Championship in August, joining Egypt, the Dominican Republic and the USA.
There is no doubt that this championship will be a very special event. Argentina has hosted many magnificent volleyball competitions including final rounds of the FIVB Volleyball World League in Cordoba (2010) and Mar del Plata (2013). However, the absolute highlight – and also the start of the national enthusiasm for volleyball – was certainly the impressive FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championships in 1982.
18,000 spectators created an atmosphere akin to that usually found in a football stadium in Luna Park in Buenos Aires, with chants, streamers and confetti. And the success of the South American teams obviously helped – unpopular arch-rivals Brazil ultimately finished runners-up behind the Soviet Union, with the hosts picking up a sensational bronze medal.
Argentina were the biggest surprise: cheered on by their home crowds they raised their game to a whole new level. Korean coach Sohn Young-Wan managed to mould together a fine team in just a short timeframe. At the time of the tournament, names like Castellani, Martinez and Conte were as famous in Argentina as those of football stars like Maradona, Kempes and Passarella. The third-place play-off demonstrated how the team had developed over the course of the tournament and the hosts triumphed 3-0 over Japan, to whom they had lost in the preliminary round.Quick links - Volleyball:
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The bronze medal was to remain the national team's greatest success, together with the equally surprising bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.
As hosts, Argentina have always been almost unrivalled: the same was true at the 2002 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championships. In a country where economic crisis had raised doubts about staging the championship, spectators took the event to heart and turned the stadiums in the six host cities into a fiesta of volleyball that drew over 330,000 spectators.
Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires was always sold out when the host team were playing and the crowd turned it into a sea of blue and white flags while they sang and danced their way through the championship. Every player from each of the 24 competing countries went home with the tune “Ole, ole, ola, Argentina!” ringing in their ears.
“It was a fantastic moment to play in these conditions, even if you were the opponent of Argentina,” said French head coach Philippe Blain during the tournament. “This is something the players will always remember.”
The event was also broadcast worldwide to around 200 countries by host broadcaster ESPN, enabling millions of volleyball fans to enjoy this quality tournament. Hosts Argentina finished in sixth place, with Marcos Milinkovic finishing top scorer and MVP of the tournament.
The men’s team is one of the very best in the world: coached by the legendary Julio Velasco, the Argentineans won their group at the Rio Olympics, before going out at the hands of eventual Olympic champions Brazil in the quarterfinals.
The women’s national team is also a force to be reckoned with in South America: with six silver medals and 12 bronze, the team is the third most successful country at the South American Championships. Argentina have also appeared regularly in the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix since 2011, and hosted a home tournament for the third time in a row in 2016.
Next up is the FIVB Girls’ U18 World Championship, which is sure to give the development of women’s volleyball in Argentina another big boost.