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Volleyball: Canadian WNT Leaving Manitoba, Moving to Richmond, BC

10 Feb, 2016


After calling Winnipeg home for 24 years, the Canadian women’s national volleyball team will be heading to Richmond, BC in early 2017. Volleyball Manitoba was informed of this decision last week and a formal announcement will be made by Volleyball Canada tomorrow.

This disappointing news came following a strong bid submission that included the Sport Manitoba Sport for Life fieldhouse as the team’s training centre, and tremendous commitment from many partners including Sport Manitoba, the Province of Manitoba, the Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba, and the City of Winnipeg.

“We are proud of the support we have provided to the Team Canada Women for 24 years, and also to the Team Canada Men who called Winnipeg home for a 12 year period from 1997-2008,” said John Blacher, Volleyball Manitoba Executive Director. “With the team being based in our province there has been so much opportunity for an elevated exposure of our sport to the community. Our local coaches have had a chance to observe and attend international matches and participate in team training, to watch and learn from the national team’s elite coaches and athletes. Our referees have experienced similar benefits through officiating the game at its highest level. Manitoba has historically led the country with qualified and certified referees, with many officiating at major international competitions including the past four Olympic Games. The national team athletes have also always been great role models, encouraging and motivating our next generations of athletes in Manitoba. Over the years there has always been more than our share of athletes from Manitoba on national team rosters representing Canada on the international stage”.

Winnipeg and Manitoba have also benefited by hosting numerous international competitions over the years including Continental Championships, Olympic and World Qualification tournaments, World League events, Canada Cups and numerous exhibition series. Matches have been played over the years not only in Winnipeg, but also in Brandon, Dauphin and Winkler.

"I will never forget, when I joined the team in Winnipeg in 1993, how we felt embraced by the entire community,” recalled Michelle Sawatzky, former national team setter from Steinbach and 1996 Olympian. “The committee helped us feel like this was home for us - in so many ways. The Canada Cups of the early 90's will never be forgotten. A packed gym and some of the most memorable wins by a Canadian women's volleyball team. Our dream came true here in Winnipeg and the support from the entire volleyball community and beyond was second to none and we carried it with us all the way to the 1996 Olympics. Thank you Winnipeg and Manitoba for making us YOUR team."

Volleyball Manitoba would like to extend a huge thank you to all the people in the community that have supported the national team programs in many ways over the years. Whether it was the host committee that worked to bring and keep the teams in our province, the committees that helped host international events and matches, and those that helped raise funds towards team training and competitions through events such as Super-Spike and the annual auction - they all made significant contributions that have been invaluable to the program.                                                                                                                                              

“For the past 25 years, the contribution of the staff, volunteers and supporters at the Winnipeg centre has been phenomenal.  On behalf of Volleyball Canada, I would like to express our sense of gratitude and pride in the great work done by Volleyball Manitoba and its partners to foster the development and growth of our high-performance programs.  Of course, our working relationship continues to be strong and the knowledge of those in Winnipeg is an invaluable resource moving forward,” said Debra Armstrong, President of Volleyball Canada.

The plan for the team is to remain in Winnipeg through to the end of this summer’s international season. The team will commence training in a couple weeks, complete their formal training camp in May, will compete in the World Grand Prix in June and the Pan Am Cup in July. The transition for the move will begin in the fall for a 2017 start in Richmond.

Volleyball Manitoba will continue to work on hosting events in the future at the national and international levels, and we look forward to those opportunities.

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