Bloor West Villager
Toronto will be under invasion next week by volleyball players, as it hosts the best indoor club teams in Canada as well as the current top ranked team in the world - Brazil.
Brazil is coming in to play the Canadian national team, which is hosting a prestigious four-team World League tournament at the Ricoh Centre May 18 to 20.
The other two countries involved are fouth-ranked Poland and 27th ranked Finland.
Poland and Brazil are already qualified for this year's London Olympics by virtue of finishing second and third at last year's world championships.
Ranked 18th in the world, Canada is making a return to the World League for the first time since 2007 after a sensational campaign last year in which they beat Slovakia and Puerto Rico to qualify.
Meanwhile, as the four national teams battle at the Ricoh Centre, Volleyball Canada, at the adjacent Direct Energy Centre, is also hosting, from May 17 to 22, its biggest ever national age-group club championships.
Top teams from across Canada will compete for their respective national club championships in various age divisions - 14U, 15U, 16U, 17U, 18U, 21U and senior divisions.
Organizers are expecting more than 10,000 players on 800 teams. Add in the coaches, officials, organizers, volunteers and spectators, and they expect about 45,000 people to churn through the Direct Energy Centre.
The club championships will run in two waves:
* Wave one, May 17 to 19: 15U/16U/21U/senior divisions;
* Wave two, May 20 to 22: 14U/17U/18U.
National team veteran Dan Lewis, of Oakville, in an interview posted on the national team website, said the two events will feed off each other.
"It will be very exciting to play in front of all the kids," said Lewis, who was just back from completing his pro season in Europe. "It will be an unbelievable connection between the elite and the young athletes. It will be a great experience that we are all looking forward to it."
More on both events at www.volleyball.ca
- Norm Nelson