The Mexican team at the 2013 edition of the FIVB Volleyball U21 Men's World Championship
Lausanne, Switzerland, September 10, 2015 - The Mexican Volleyball Federation has a vision. It wants to be a major world player in volleyball by 2030. And the North American country is on the right track
For the first time in 32 years, both of Mexico's teams took part in the FIVB Volleyball World Championships last year. The men finished 17th, the women 21st. Mexican teams have also been involved in the FIVB’s most important annual competitions – the World League (men) and the World Grand Prix (women) – for the last two years.
“These international competitions are good for the national teams and promote volleyball in Mexico. We want to encourage more people to attend matches and play volleyball,” said Mexican Volleyball Association President Jesús Perales Navarro. The association does a lot to promote the sport in a country with a passion for football, and regularly organises competitions focused on junior teams. In 2013, the FIVB Volleyball Women’s U23 World Championship was held in Mexico. And next up is the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U-21 World Championship, which takes place from September 11-20. Navarro: “We invest in the future.”
The competitions take place in Tijuana and Mexicali, which provide the perfect setting. The two cities also have an abundance of experience when it comes to staging major events - the Men's U21s will be the sixth World Championship competition organised by the Baja California Sports Institute since 2007.
A few days ago, the Mexican U21 squad were officially presented to the press at a media day held at the Baja California High Performance Centre. The Mexican players also received their official uniforms from the local organising committee.
The Mexican fans naturally have high expectations for their team, even if the hosts are only outsiders to win the event. There is a long tradition of playing volleyball in the country - the sport was first introduced to Mexico back in 1917.
The national teams enjoyed their greatest period of success between 1950 and 1975. The Mexican teams were among the dominant forces in the NORCECA region during that period. The women won gold on their Pan American Games debut in 1955, and followed that by claiming bronze in 1963, 1971 and 1975. It was a similar story at the NORCECA Championship, with triumphs in 1969 and 1971, followed by bronze medals in 1975, 1979 and 1981. When they welcomed the world's best at the Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games, they finished seventh.
The men’s national team won a silver (1955) and two bronze medals (1959, 1975) in the Pan American Games, and three silvers (1969, 1975, 1977) and two bronze (1971, 1979) at the NORCECA Championship. The highlight of the country’s volleyball history was undoubtedly the World Championship on home soil in 1974. Tens of thousands of fans flocked to the venues around the country, creating a unique atmosphere. Both national teams impressed with strong tenth places – still the best result in the history of Mexico's national teams, who have made five (men) and seven (women) appearances at FIVB Volleyball World Championships.
The sport has enjoyed great popularity since the World Championship event in 1974, and volleyball is set to receive a new boost when the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship comes to town in September. On the one hand, the tournament will return volleyball to the attention of sports fans throughout the country. On the other hand, coach Eduardo Murguia’s youngsters will have the opportunity to test themselves against the best teams in the world in this age group.
The Mexicans will participate in a pre-tournament training camp, which teams like Egypt, Canada and China will also take part in.
These are all little pieces in a jigsaw that, when complete, should see Mexico establish itself as one of the top volleyball teams in the world within the next 15 years.