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Barry Couzner: Theatres of Dreams – The 2018 Sitting Volleyball World Championships

With one week having passed since we celebrated the crowning of the latest world champions in Sitting Volleyball – Russia (women) and I R Iran (men) – it’s given me time to reflect on the incredible success of the event held in the birth place of Sitting Volleyball – the Netherlands.

The 2018 World Championships will live long in the memory of not only the fans who bought tickets to watch World ParaVolley’s premier event but as well as the hundreds of thousands of global fans watching through social media and live streaming.

IPC President Andrew Parsons has said that the World Championships took Sitting Volleyball to another level and I couldn’t agree with him more. I was very pleased to welcome the IPC President to our flagship event and he was full of praise for the tournament and the athletes, who are the true stars of our sport and continue to lead the way with their outstanding skill and determination in performing “on stage” for their national teams.

It was pleasing to receive President Parson’s personal backing for Beach ParaVolley and our bid to enter the LA 2028 Paralympic Games and I’m looking forward to the moment when we can reflect on the 2018 World ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball World Championships and say this was the true beginning of Beach ParaVolley’s journey into the Paralympics.

But overall, the 2018 World ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball World Championships certainly set the bar high for us in terms of the quality of Sitting Volleyball played throughout the tournament and the presentation and promotion of the sport not only locally but around the world via our global online communication network.

World ParaVolley continues to go from strength to strength with members numbers, fanbase and participation numbers growing rapidly and these World Championships, which was part of a trifecta of events which the Netherlands Volleyball Federation hosted (the others being the European Beach Volleyball Championships and U20 Men’s Volleyball Championship) at the same time, are testament to this.

It was the first time ever we had an equal split of teams – 16 – per gender illustrating World ParaVolley’s drive towards gender equality. It’s also the first time we have staged the World Championships across five different cities and the first time theatres were used as venues, proving to be a great masterstroke in terms of generating an amazing atmosphere and drama to proceedings – thanks to the innovative Organizers. I recall the Theatres of Dreams as one of the headlines prior to the start of the tournament and it certainly was the case. Dreams were realised in these stunning venues with Russia winning the Women’s World Championship for the first time and the I R Iran men claiming their seventh world title.

In addition to Russia and I R Iran, World ParaVolley’s spread of technical expertise must also be celebrated with three out of four World ParaVolley Zones winning medals in both genders, indicating the broad width of success geographically around the globe.

Women
1 Europe (RUS)
2 Pan Am (USA)
3 Asia/Oceania (CHN)

Men
1 Asia/Oceania (IRI)
2 Europe (BIH)
3 Pan Am (BRA)

I would like to finish by thanking everyone involved in these momentous 2018 Sitting Volleyball World Championships, especially the players, the Organisers, the fans, our partners, all the World ParaVolley officials and particularly the local volunteers, who were essential to the tournament success.

We are already looking forward to the next World ParaVolley Sitting Volleyball World Championships in 2022 – for which we will be confirming the location as soon as possible – where we will continue to showcase the best of Sitting Volleyball from around the world. In the meantime, we have a Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020 to focus on where more dreams will be realised!

Barry Couzner OAM
World ParaVolley President



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