The FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix is our premier annual competition for women’s national teams ever since its inception in 1993, and continues to impress two decades on.
This year’s edition promises to be particularly special as the teams will be looking to impress in the lead up to the Olympic Games.
I would like to congratulate and commend the 28 teams who will participate this year and who will play a pivotal part in entertaining and inspiring volleyball fans around the world. We are privileged to have dedicated athletes who are committed to helping volleyball become the number one family entertainment sport in the world and are forever thankful for their dedication and application.
The World Grand Prix has been a great illustration of just how far volleyball’s popularity has come in a few decades. Just eight teams competed in the first edition, before it was increased to 12 in 2003. It remained that way until 2011 when 16 countries were involved for the first time before the tournament expanded by four teams in 2014 and eight in 2015. This continued expansion has helped enhance the competiveness and intensity of the tournament, making it more attractive to fans and sponsors worldwide.
After last year’s performance, all eyes will be on one of the world’s volleyball superpowers – USA. The 2014 world champions only lost just one match in the Preliminary Round before dropping just two sets on their unbeaten run during the Finals in front of their home fans in Omaha to capture a fifth World Grand Prix crown. It was a testament to how coach Karch Kiraly has moulded his squad into a more consistent unit, which bodes well for the world No. 1 as they attempt to end their wait for Olympic gold in Rio.
It was also a memorable year for Kenya, who, coming into the tournament, had never won an FIVB title. They reached the Group 3 Finals, only to face Peru, who had beaten them in straight sets in their opening match of the tournament. In a truly monumental effort, the African champions gained revenge for that loss, winning in straight sets to create a piece of history for volleyball in their country and prove that the World Grand Prix continues to help develop the sport in every corner of the globe.
I wish the best of luck to all teams involved in the 2016 edition and look forward to an outstanding six weeks of action.
Dr. Ary S. Graça F°