THE Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation (TTVF) will be paying tribute to Nancy Joseph during the Beach Volleyball Olympic Male Qualifier this weekend at Saith Park, Chaguanas.
The tournament is the opening leg of CAZOVA (Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association) qualifying for the Games of the XXX1 Olympiad, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August next year.
The 12 participating countries — Aruba, Barbados, Bahamas, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Suriname and T&T — will be represented by two pairs each and the top six countries will move on to the second of four rounds of qualifying in the NORCECA (North, Central America and the Caribbean) region.
Fabian Whitfield and Daneil Williams, winners all ten local tournaments this season without dropping a set, will fly the red, white and black flag, along with Josiah Eccles and Tevin Joseph, who competed alongside Tarandath Deonath in last year’s World Under-23 Beach Volleyball Championships.
Joseph earned the right to play in the opening leg of female qualifying, which concludes today in Jamaica, but decided to take a break from the game because of work commitments.
And the TTVF decided not to wait for the employee of Atlantic to announce her retirement to honour her for her invaluable contribution to the country on the sand for over a decade.
The TTVF has deemed the qualifier “The Road To Rio” and they have planned a female exhibition tournament “in honour of Trinidad’s legendary Nancy Joseph” during the weekend.
Joseph is the most celebrated beach volleyball player to ever emerge from this country and she is still the sport’s only representative for Sportswoman of the Year, eight years after breaking new ground.
The year 2007 is definitely one that she will never forget as Joseph also competed on her biggest stage that season when she and Elki Philip were the female beach representatives in the Pan American Games in Brazil.
Playing alongside Andrea Davis, Joseph participated in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games the year before in Colombia and she returned to this stage in November last year and turned in one of the highlight performances of her career by reaching the quarter-finals with the assistance of Ayana Dyette in Mexico.
Although many in volleyball circles feel that this break spells goodbye, although the 34-year-old is still one of the leading players in the country and has confirmed that she has not retired.
Joseph had faced the nightmare of forced retirement on the heels of two of her best performances of her career four years ago.
It was a dream start to 2011 for the player who hails from central Trinidad as she and Philip won the regional Sizzling Sand Tournament in Barbados in February, defeating compatriots Dyette and Nadiege Honore in a final filmed by the world’s leading sports television, ESPN.
A few weeks later, the duo finished fourth in the Dominican Republic in one of their early outings in the very prestigious NORCECA Tour.
But while she was preparing for CAC Games less than a month later, Joseph suffered a serious knee injury and doubted she would ever set foot on the sand again following surgery.
However like a true champion she returned in the middle of 2012 and ended the year with her second NORCECA fourth-placed finish, alongside Dyette in the home leg in Toco at the end of October.
Joseph represented the country in four NORCECA events the following year and played alongside Dyette in six of the ten events in last year’s circuit.
The duo also enjoyed a perfect season at home last year, winning all nine local tournaments they played.
The National Beach Volleyball Championships have not been staged in four years, but it has been contested on six occasions and Joseph swept all six crowns.
National indoor player Rheeza Grant was her partner the first time around, while Davis was involved on the next two occasions, and Philip in the last three.
The female exhibition tournament will precede T&T’s matches in the Olympic Qualifier on all three nights and Joseph has accepted the invitation to play.
The Qualifier is scheduled to serve off on Friday morning.