Hosts Argentina will be joined by 19 other teams from around the world at the FIVB Volleyball Boys' U19 World Championship in Chaco and Corrientes
Lausanne, Switzerland, August 10, 2015 - Argentina has played hosts to a series of magnificent international volleyball tournaments in recent years. The FIVB Volleyball Boys' U19 World Championship in Chaco and Corrientes from August 14-23 – which was awarded to the country for the second time after it organised the event in 2011 – is set to be the next.
Recent standout events in Argentina include the final rounds of the FIVB Volleyball World League in Cordoba (2010) and Mar del Plata (2013). However, the absolute highlight – and also the start of a countrywide enthusiasm for volleyball – was certainly the impressive FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in 1982.
18,000 spectators at the Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires created an atmosphere akin to that usually found at a football stadium, with chants, streamers and confetti. And the results of the South American teams obviously helped – neighbours Brazil ultimately finished runners-up behind the Soviet Union, with the hosts picking up a sensational bronze medal.
Argentina were undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the tournament. Cheered on by their fans, they raised their game to a whole new level. Korean coach Sohn Young-Wan welded together a fine team in very little time. Names like Castellani, Martinez and Conte were as famous in Argentina as those of football stars like Maradona, Kempes and Passarella. The third place playoff demonstrated how the team had developed over the course of the tournament: the hosts triumphed 3-0 over Japan, to whom they had lost in the preliminary round.
The bronze medal was to remain the national team's greatest success – together with an equally surprising bronze medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul. At a continental level, Argentina have been overshadowed by Brazil, but Argentina won gold at the South America Volleyball Championship in 1964. Conde/Baracetti also demonstrated that Argentina is a beach volleyball country by winning gold at the 2001 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
As hosts, Argentina have always been extremely welcoming. The same was true for the 2002 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship. Economic crisis had raised doubts about whether the country could stage the championship, but spectators took the event to heart and turned the stadiums in the six host cities into a fiesta of volleyball, which attracted over 330,000 spectators. Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires was always sold out when the host team were playing and the crowd turned it into a sea of blue and white flags while they sang and danced their way through the championship. Every player from each of the 24 competing countries went home with the tune “Ole, ole, ola, Argentina!” ringing in their ears.
“It was a fantastic moment to play in these conditions, even if you were the opponent of Argentina,” said French head coach Philippe Blain during the tournament. “This is something the players will always remember.” The event was also broadcast worldwide to around 200 countries by host broadcaster ESPN, enabling millions of volleyball fans to enjoy the tournament. Hosts Argentina finished sixth, but with Marcos Milinkovic the best scorer and MVP of the tournament.
Today's men's national team is trying to build on the major successes of days gone by. Top players like Facundo Conte are nationwide stars. Coach Julio Velasco is also a solid favourite. He once led Italy to two World Championship titles and is on the way up with his home country: “We need patience, lots of young talented players in the country and the people's passion for volleyball.” His team recently made the leap up to the FIVB Volleyball World League Group 2 Finals.
There are plenty of talented players in Argentina. Between 2005 and 2009, the junior selection at the FIVB Boys' U19 World Championship finished fourth twice and won a bronze medal. The hope is that this year's championship will lead to the start of another successful era for Argentina in international volleyball.