Volleyball World is Ary Graca’s best gift to the sport


From left: Slovenia's Klemen Cebulj spikes the ball against Germany's Linus Weber and Germany's Tobias Krick during their World Volleyball Championship Pool D match at the Arena Stozice in Ljubljana, Slovenia on August 30, 2022.

Photo credit: Jure Makovec | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Volleyball World is a brainchild of FIVB President Dr Ary Graca

The ongoing FIVB Men’s World Championships that served off last month has been equally intriguing and explosive with millions of volleyball fans pouncing on the opportunity to follow the action live on Volleyball World online platforms.

I have not been left out and on Tuesday night I sacrificed my sleep to catch the match between defending champions Poland and USA. And it was totally worth it as the host nation recovered from a set down to beat USA 3-1 with Poland skipper Bartosz Kurek leading from the front with a game-high 20 points.

However, one incident caught my eye during this high-stake encounter. With both sides tied at 1-1, Volleyball World - the commercial wing of FIVB courtesy of its partnership with CVC Capital Partners - had a brief interview with both coaches as the players changed sides on court in preparation for the third set.

The interviews caught me by surprise since it’s unheard of in most sports during live broadcast of matches. It’s like interviewing a football coach during half-time or water breaks.  

The normal practice during live broadcasts is to have pre and post match interviews of coaches.

But Tuesday night’s incident is part of Volleyball World’s innovations to spice up its live broadcast of volleyball matches during international competitions.

It’s a welcome break from the monotony of pre and post match interviews and gives the viewer a front seat into team tactics in the real heat of the moment.

It was amazing to listen to Poland coach Nikola Grnic and his USA opposite number John Speraw delve into substitutions and fielding decisions ahead of the third set and systematically break down the tactics that had won them a set apiece.

Volleyball World is a brainchild of FIVB President Dr Ary Graca. It was launched in February last year as part of concerted efforts to improve the popularity of the sport and in the process commercialize it.

And Volleyball World has hit the ground running with CEO Finn Taylor mobilising his team to effect a raft of innovations that have not only increased viewership but also placed volleyball as the fourth most popular sport in the world currently.

The FIVB World League (men) and Grand Prix (women) competitions have now morphed into the lucrative Volleyball Nations League played across different venues across the world.

This year, the Beach Pro Tour has taken in a new format with three tiers - Elite16, Challenge and Futures- being introduced by Volleyball World.

Despite being in its infancy having only been launched last year, Volleyball World has taken volleyball to another level through proper packaging of live matches and unrivaled organization of competitions. This has enhanced fans experience by bringing them closer to the action through music, commentary and DJs. Re-elected for a fresh eight year term in 2016 as FIVB President on a promise of innovation, I can confidently say that Graca has delivered on that note through Volleyball World. If there is something the global volleyball fraternity will remember Graca for, it’s certainly Volleyball World.

It will be even enthralling if, as part of its expansion plans, Volleyball World will work with confederations to organize their flagship events such as Africa Nations Championship and Clubs Championship back here in Africa.

But for now, with the Women’s World Championship coming soon after the men’s edition which ends on September 11, Kenyan volleyball fans can look forward to a memorable experience as they watch Malkia Strikers fly the country’s flag in Netherlands. Pool ‘A’ Action begins on September 23 with Kenya facing the hosts. Belgium, African champions Cameroon, European and VNL champions Italy and Puerto Rico follow in that order.

Mark your calendars folks, Volleyball World got you covered.