BY BILL PHILLIPS
You will get a chance to see some future Olympians in action in Prince George next summer.
Volleyball Canada announced Wednesday that the city will host the NORCECA U19 Men’s Pan American Cup, July 22-28, 2019.
“This is a huge event for Prince George,” said Mayor Lyn Hall, who made the announcement in the Northern Sport Centre. “This is a really big deal, I can’t stress that enough.”
The event will draw about 150 athletes from eight countries from North, South, and Central America.
“The championship will draw hundreds of people into our community, expose everyone in our community to this high-calibre sporting event, it will expose the people coming to our city what is has to offer,” he said. “It showcases UNBC and what a fantastic university it is.”
He said it shows Prince George can host national and international sporting events.
Leanne Schinkel, manager of sport and event development at TourismPG said the event will generate about $650,000 worth of economic activity in the city.
Partners in the bid to host the tournament were Prince George Youth Volleyball Club, City of Prince George, University of Northern British Columbia and Tourism Prince George. The tournament will take place at the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre, located on the University of Northern British Columbia campus.
“This is an ideal opportunity to showcase up and coming athletes from the NORCECA zone in the City of Prince George, which had an excellent bid and we’re confident will host a high quality tournament,” said Alan Ahac, Director of International Events for Volleyball Canada. “There is a thriving volleyball community in the area, and we already have a lot of support for the event from local businesses and organizations. We’re looking forward to next summer.”
He said the process started about four months ago, when Volleyball Canada started soliciting bids.
He added the event will involve the best volleyball teams in North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. The top two teams will earn a sport in the World Championship.
“You will probably find that there will be a few athletes on each of these teams who will almost immediately move on to their senior national teams,” Ahac said. “The kids you’ll see next summer here in Prince George will, within a year or two, be headliner athletes, perhaps even at the Olympics in 2020.”
There will be a legacy from the event, including a learner’s program and a coaching symposium.
The Prince George Youth Volleyball Club was one of the driving forces behind getting the games.
“We’re extremely excited to be selected as the host of the 2019 Under 19 Men’s Pan American Cup,” said President of the Prince George Youth Volleyball Club and organizing committee chair, Dan Drezet. “Prince George has a great history of sport hosting and we are looking forward to showcasing our city to these high-level athletes from all over North, Central and South America. This bid was a true community partnership, and we look forward to continuing that partnership to ensure the success of this event.”