If you want to mix to, sun, surf, sand, sports on your holidays then you would be well advised to take in a beach volleyball tournament. You can even visit the world’s best cities where the sand is shifted in for the playing surface. Swide chooses for you the best locations to watch the talent.
Starting out in the 1920’s in the beach towns of Southern California and Hawaii the sport has grown in tandem along with surfing. However, beach volleyball has had access to Olympic funding since 1996 when it was accepted as an event. This has seen the sport surge in popularity with many nations not known for their beach culture take the sport very seriously such as Russia and China.
Brasília Open, April
Rio de Janeiro is the spiritual home of Beach Volleyball with the first international taking place there in 1987. That set the ball rolling for the sport to become the internationally recognised popular sport it is today. It is only fitting then that Brazil’s capital city Brazília host the biggest Beach Volleyball tournament in the country today. In other countries it’s considered a niche sport, but in Brazil it is a passion. It somehow lives in harmony with the nation’s other passion football, rather than in competition and the crowds for the annual event are among the biggest of all. Brazília is a stunning city and the only 20th century-built city to be awarded UNESCO cultural status. It is Brazil’s most modern and cosmopolitan city and a hub for art, design, architecture and a thriving nightlife. The Paranoá Lake is an artificial lake formed to provide the region with water, it is Brazil’s second largest marina and is a great spot for wakeboarding and windsurfing.
Olympic Bay Sanya Open
Sanya is the southernmost city in China in the Hainan province and is famous for its tropical climate, a rich and diverse population, thriving tourism industry and is the training site of the Chinese national beach volleyball team. You could say that Sanya is the Rio of China and many international hotel chains have established luxurious complexes in the region. Sanya also hosts the Olympic Sanya Bay Open and as the home team China has a fanatical support from the locals it is a huge event. With the same latitude as Hawaii the South China Sea is always warm it is the perfect holiday destination with the best of beach culture and the attractions of Asian culture, food and history a destination that has it all.
The crowning event of the beach volleyball calendar will be held in London at the Horse Guards Parade. A temporary venue will be installed with a capacity for 15,000 seats and with four floodlight towers to enable play to continue into the long English evenings. 96 athletes will compete for gold across the men’s and women’s events. The sport debuted in 1996 at the Atlanta Games and since then its popularity has rocketed. Sydney held the event on the world famous Bondi Beach, London with a lack of natural beaches is set to take the summer sun and sand into its heart as it is set to be one of the Game’s most popular events.
Rome Grand Slam July 12-17
Not only is volleyball one of the most popular sports in Italy but the Italians take beach culture, beautiful bodies and sporting competition all very seriously. The event is held in Rome so it is in the middle of the most beautiful city in the world. The organisers have stolen a march on other cities bidding to support the event and as the popularity of the sport soars Rome aims to become the top event on the calendar. “Our target is to transform the Foro Italico into the ‘Wimbledon’ of beach volleyball,” said tournament director Diego Nepi Molineris at the tournament’s launch at the Foro Italico.
Agadir Open, June
Morocco is the first North African to host a FIVB event after previous events were held in South Africa. This is a stunning location for vacation and a great mix of top sports competition with North African charm make or something completely unexpected. The local inject the event with a rare energy and as this Open is only in its infancy you could be one of the few who could say they were there when it all started. The bustling tourist destination has all the necessary infrastructure along with a haphazard way of doing things that endears you to the unique way of life here. With the best of seafood n offer and the stunning Atlas Mountains nearby this could become a very special sporting event that you will want to come back to again and again.
By Hugo Mc Cafferty