2017 Preview: Six Age-Group World Championships to highlight new talent
Russia won the FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship in Mexico in 2015
Egypt in Africa (Men’s U23s), Bahrain in the Middle East (Boys’ U19s), Argentina in South America (Girls’ U18s), Mexico in North America (Women’s U20s) and the Czech Republic (Men’s U21s) und Slovenia (Women’s U23s) in Europe will play hosts to this year's six World Championships. The last time the events were contested in 2015, Russia were the most successful country with two titles.
Quick links - 2017 Age-Group World Championships
Men's U23 World Championship Egypt 2017
Women's U23 World Championship Slovenia 2017
Men's U21 World Championship Czech Republic 2017
Women's U20 World Championship Mexico 2017
Boys' U19 World Championship Bahrain 2017
Girls' U18 World Championship Argentina 2017
The Czech Republic will be the first country to hold an Age-Group World Championship in 2017, when the top 16 U21 men's teams compete for honours in Brno and Ceske Budejovice from June 23 to July 2. The hunt is on for a successor to defending champions Russia.
“I would like to thank the Czech federation, which will host several FIVB events in 2017, including the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship, for its outstanding commitment to the promotion of these key events,” said FIVB President Dr. Ary Graça S. F°.
The Czech Republic has a proud history of staging events. And the country's capital Prague was the venue for the first ever FIVB Volleyball World Championship in 1949, held just two years after the International Volleyball Federation was established.
The second Age-Group World Championship in 2017 - the Women's U20s - will take place in Boca del Río and Córdoba in Mexico from July 14 to 23.
Mexico will mark the centenary of the introduction of volleyball into the North American country when it hosts the WU20s. Held in high regard around the world as an organiser of major events, Mexico hosted the FIVB Men’s U21 World Championship successfully in 2015. Russia won the title and MVP Pavel Pankov was full of praise for the organisers. “This is a place with good memories for me. It will remain so. A very happy place with very good fans and people,” he said.
The FIVB Women’s U20 World Championship will take place in Mexico for the third time. The title went to Germany in 2009, while South Korea were victorious in 1981. On that occasion, the host nation finished an outstanding fourth. The defending champions are the Dominican Republic, who won their maiden title in 2015.
Three Age-Group World Championships will then be held at the end of August: the Girls’ U18s and Boys’ U19s (both August 18-27) and the Men’s U23s (August 18-25).
For the first time since Cairo hosted the 2001 Boys' Youth World Championship, Egypt will welcome an age-group FIVB tournament. The FIVB Volleyball Men's U23 World Championship will visit the country's capital, with 12 teams vying for top honours.
Egypt, who also hosted the 1991 FIVB Men's Junior World Championship in Cairo, have been the dominant force in African volleyball, with numerous appearances in all world competitions. Russia, however, are the reigning world champions in this age-group.
The eyes of the volleyball world will also be on Bahrain, when the kingdom in the Persian Gulf will host the Boys’ U19 World Championship – one of the biggest volleyball events in the country’s history. In total, 20 teams will qualify for the World Championship, and play to succeed 2015 champions Poland.
Bahrain has also made a name for itself as an organiser of the FIVB Volleyball Men’s U21 World Championship in 1987. An enormous crowd packed the Juffair Dome for the final between Korea and Cuba (3-2) with spectators turned away because tickets were sold out. There was considerable satisfaction for Bahrain, who finished eighth to claim the best result ever by an Arab team. Bahrain staged the Men’s U21 World Championship for the second time in 1997. Poland won the final to be crowned world champions.
Finally, the Girls’ U18 World Championship also takes place in August, with 20 teams set to battle it out for top spot on the podium. Italy won their first gold medal two years ago, at the 2015 tournament. Just one year after the country's women's volleyball team's first participation in an Olympic tournament, Argentina will host the 2017 edition.
Argentina has established itself as a powerhouse in the men's game and hosted the FIVB Volleyball Boys’ U19 World Championships for the second time in four years in 2015. Cheered on by thousands of fans, the hosts reached the final, where they lost to Poland in five sets. The Argentinean girls would obviously love to achieve a similar success this year, but have yet to finish higher than eighth in nine appearances (2005 and 2011) and were tenth in 2015.
The last event on this year's Age-Group World Championship calendar is the Women’s U23 World Championship in Slovenia, which will take place from September 10 to 17. Capital city Ljubljana and Maribor will be the host cities as the top 12 women’s U23 teams chase the chance to succeed Brazil as U23 world champions. After taking international volleyball by storm in recent years with their silver medal at the 2015 Men's European Championship and following that up with promotion to Group 2 in the FIVB Volleyball World League in 2016, Slovenia is preparing to woo the world with its women's volleyball.
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