The largest volleyball event in Canadian history is coming to Toronto and Canadian national men’s volleyball team members Dan Lewis of Oakville, Ont., and Louis-Pierre Mainville of Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, Que., are relishing the opportunity to connect with the best young athletes in their sport.
The pair were at a news conference Tuesday for the official launch of the FIVB Men’s Volleyball World League and the 2012 Canadian Open Championships both set for the week of May 17-22 in Toronto at the Ricoh Centre and Direct Energy Centre. The Canadian Open championships is expected to attract about 10,000 players, coaches and officials from across Canada with national titles in various age groups on the line for men and women. .
“It will be very exciting to play in front of all the kids,” said Lewis, just back from completing his pro season in Europe. “It will be an unbelievable connection between the elite and the young athletes. It will be a great experience that we are all looking forward to it.”
Canada is making a return to the World League for the first time since 2007 after a sensational 2011 campaign in which they beat Slovakia and Puerto Rico to qualify. The World League offers the biggest cash prizes in the sport.
The World League matches are May 18-19-20 at the Ricoh Centre. Canada, ranked 18th in the world, faces its pool opponents Finland on May 18, world number-one Brazil on May 19 and world number-four Poland on May 20.
“To play in the World League means a lot to us,” said Mainville. “It’s the most prestigious event in the world. We will be facing good teams, and it will be a great way to prepare for the Olympics.”
“Toronto will be left with a great legacy of volleyball,’’ said Derek Kent of the Canadian Olympic Committee. ‘’We look forward to seeing all that can be done here in Toronto. The power of sport can transform our country. This is a must attend event when it comes here.”