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Walking in illustrious footsteps

 
Lausanne, Switzerland, August 21, 2015 - When the first edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship was held two years ago, Ricardo Lucarelli and Aleksandar Atanasijevic went head to head in the final. Host nation Brazil retained the upper hand in Uberlandia, with a 3-2 victory over Serbia. It was Serbia captain Atanasijevic, however, who was the final's outstanding scorer with 25 points.

"Brazil are a very strong team. They have been building this team for over five years. We just hope that in the future - maybe at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games - we will get our rematch,” said Atanasijevic. But the rematch came much sooner. In this year's FIVB Volleyball World League, Brazil played Serbia in the preliminary round. Both teams made it into the Finals in Rio de Janeiro, which were held at the Maracanãzinho. Despite a strong performance from Ricardo Lucarelli, the hosts surprisingly missed out on the semifinals.
 
U23 preview


Serbia, on the other hand, progressed to the final and Atanasijevic received a standing ovation from the Brazilian fans as the competition's 'Best Opposite Spiker'.

These examples show what a dominant role players at the first FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship event have take on in their national teams just two years down the line.

Brazilian world champion coach Roberley Leonaldo praised the introduction of the new age-group World Championships: “We are continually working with young players alongside the principal team, training together and playing competitions that the principal team wouldn't play. This new U23 competition is a perfect way to develop young talents.”

This is also the aim of the second edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championship, which will take place from August 24-31 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“Most of the world's national teams have an important group of players who are in the U23 category. They constitute 40 or 50 per cent of their programmes, which means that volleyball is in constant development,” said FIVB First Executive Vice President and NORCECA President, Cristobal Marte Hoffiz:

“Many of the players who will play here are the future stars that will be competing with their national teams at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo in 2020.”

Marte Hoffiz added: “The organisation of this U23 World Championship is the result of the visionary thinking of FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F°. He is a person committed to development, which is the reason that we started a historic event.”

President Graça said that the new showdowns were introduced “in recognition of the need to sustain and develop the sporting success of young athletes. The U23 World Championships are the highest possible level to play at internationally in this age group and are an important bridge to help athletes make the successful transition between junior and senior elite competition. The competition reinforces the FIVB’s commitment to developing the careers and skills of volleyball players around the world by offering more opportunities for international play, and it is not only the athletes who benefit, since coaches, referees and tournament officials also have the opportunity to hone their skills through this channel.”

At the first championship in Brazil, twelve teams from around the world made the most of this new opportunity.

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Russia beat Bulgaria 3-1 to claim bronze. Like his colleagues, Venezuela coach Ivan Nieto was extremely positive about his team's debut in the competition, after finishing in sixth place. “This was a very positive tournament for us,” said Nieto. “Not only we were able to advance from the group stage, but we also managed to move up in the final ranking. Now the players can move on into the senior category having achieved something for our country.”

U23 preview

The same will be true of the second edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U23 World Championships in Dubai. It will be interesting to see which players emerge from the championship as the sport's future stars.

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