Bangkok, Thailand, June 23, 2015 – All is set for the World Grand Prix Preliminaries Pool A encounters at the Hua Mark Indoor Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand from July 3 to 5, with the home spikers, current world No.12 and Asian bronze medallists, testing their mettle against successive two-time Olympic champions Brazil, Asian powerhouses Japan and European giants Serbia;
A total of 28 teams have been confirmed to take part in this year’s FIVB World Grand Prix, which have been split into Group 1, 2 and 3. Group 1, the elite group among the world’s top 12 teams, features 12 teams to vie for the top honour consisting of world No.2 Brazil, world champions and world No.1 the USA, Asian winners China, last year’s World Grand Prix silver medallists Japan, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Italy, Serbia, Russia, Germany and Turkey. The increase in the number of participating teams brings with it an increased level of competition and has also helped spread the World Grand Prix to new territories around the word.
The previous edition, which had 28 participating countries for the first time, saw Brazil capture the title for a record 10th time after powering past Japan in the tough clash of the competition. Russia claimed bronze, their first World Grand Prix medal for five years.
More than 100 local reporters and photographers took part in Tuesday’s press conference on the Thailand’s readiness to host the World Grand Prix Pool A encounters. In the meeting, Thai Beverage Marketing, the long-time generous sponsor of the Thailand Volleyball Association, officially launched the “Est Cola” as a brand-new commercial ad (in place of “Chang”) to be shown on the players’ jerseys of the Thai national volleyball teams. Thus “Est Cola” brand will appear on jerseys of the Thai volleyball teams from now on, not Chang anymore.
TVA’s President Somporn Chaibangyang, who presided over the Tuesday’s conference, said, “As far as I’m concerned, the World Grand Prix is one of the major volleyball tournaments the Thai fans look forward to watching each year. This time, Thailand will host the first-week preliminaries and we have to make sure everything is all set in order that the three-day competition will be smoothly run and the Pool A encounters in Bangkok will be a memorable success for both the participating teams and the spectators.”
In terms of the competition, Somporn admitted that among the four participating teams in the Bangkok Pool, Brazil are likely to be the strongest rivals to be reckoned with. Thailand will first take on Serbia on July 3 before going up against Japan and Brazil on July 4 and 5 respectively By taking part in the World Grand Prix, the Thai spikers have a chance to sharpen their skill against the much stronger oppositions. Furthermore, it will also help extend the Thai players’ future career with some key players invited to compete professionally in overseas leagues.
This year, a Video Challenge will be used for the first time in every Pool encounter including Pool A in Bangkok, where the top-flight competition hit fever pitch again as all tickets were sold out just 10 minutes after the official launch at 10am on June 19.
However, local TV Channel 7 will televise all the Thai matches live daily consisting the first encounter against Serbia at 4pm on July 3, against Japan at 4.30pm the following day and the last match against Brazil on July 5, while satellite TV channel SMM will broadcast all matches live.
At the end of the Pool A encounters on July 5, Thailand will next leave for Sao Paolo, Brazil to compete against Belgium, Germany and hots Brazil in Pool D during July 10 and 12 before moving on to Hong Kong to take on indomitable China, USA, fresh from winning the Pan American Cup, and Japan in Pool H from July 16 to 18.
Only the best five teams after the completion of the pool-play preliminaries plus the Finals hosts the USA will be pitted against one another in the World Grand Prix Finals in Omaha, the USA between July 22 and 26.
“It’s hard to forecast how about our prospect in this year’s World Grand Prix will be, as we will play tough matches against strong teams in the three weekends. However, despite the daunting task, our top priority remains unchanged, that is we have to maintain our chance to play in Group 1 again next year,” Thai head coach Kiattipong Radchatagriengkai commented in the Tuesday’s meeting.
Thailand made their debut effort in the premier women’s volleyball tournament in 2002 and they finished eighth position among eight participating teams. Last year, Thailand finished 11th place among 12 participating teams. The best performance of the Thai team was the fourth place at the 2012 edition.
Meanwhile, shortly after the end of the press conference, TVA’s President Somporn Chaibangyang called a special meeting to review the preparation of all involving working groups for the World Grand Prix Pool A encounters in Bangkok from July 3 to 5 in order that things will be put to the right place ahead of the kickoff on July 3.
Key points on hospitality, transportation, inspection to the training and competition venues, security measures, facilities and accommodations and fun activities were raised for joint discussion. It was concluded at the end of the meeting that Thailand is now ready to host the World Grand Prix Pool A clash.