Oct. 8 - The popular Laura Village sporting venue was buzzing with activity as Marshall Islands Sport Education Program (MISEP) was preparing to host the biggest volleyball tournament held for 8-11 year old girls. The two age groups for this tournament was 8-9 yrs. and 10-11 yrs. In the beginning there was worry that the community wasn't ready to participate in such a large event for young volleyball players since no one was accustomed to having volleyball development for this age group. When the time came near, approximately noon, teams from all over the village began to show up, turning out well over 100 participants. This was a welcomed surprise for the MISEP team.

Before the tournament began MINOC Treasurer Tony Muller and Secretary General Terry Sasser provided words of encouragement to the young participants, their communities, and to the MISEP Team and volunteers. Tatyana Samson gave remarks on behalf of MISEP. Ms. Samson expressed MISEP's goal to reach these numbers in participants but realistically "we were not sure that it would happen". She went on to state that MISEP Team is not overwhelmed by the large turn out in participants but was rather pleased and excited to get the games going. The speeches were kept short and the tournament started with an opening prayer by Temwein Tintru, who was a volunteer in charge of the PA System provided by Mission Pacific.

The Volleyball Tournament utilized 10 courts holding games simultaneously with one or two courts used by teams on standby for warming up, keeping each participant active. The MISEP team was kept busy as they dealt with officiating and administering at least 6 games simultaneously through out the tournament.

The competition was outstanding. In the 8-9 year old category Arrak came out on top after battling through two of the top teams, Iolap Nan Mej (2nd place) and Letwo (3rd place). Meanwhile, in the other category (10-11 years old) Jatdrik defeated Letwo after a very long and grueling match for 1st place. Thus, Letwo got 2nd place and Aranan held 3rd place in the same category.

The purpose of launching this tournament for young children is to teach volleyball in a fun, competitive and motivating atmosphere while helping to develop a number of characteristics in children such as motivation for learning and the rewards and successes of hard work and determination. Coaches and MISEP officials monitored the children and guided them to develop increased communication, team value and dedication. While guiding the children yet allowing them freedom to make their own choices in the competitions, the children are learning new qualities and lessons on their own.

This single tournament turned out to be a great success. However, MISEP and the Marshall Islands National Olympic Committee would like to see more sports development for this young age group in the future to insure greater number of athletes and opportunities in the long run. The idea of developing sports at a young age is based on a concept from FIVB's Cool Volley program, which allows children to learn the sport and build sportsmanship and character through playing.

MISEP is an on-going program for training community presenters to train coaches and officials at the grass roots level. Currently in scheduling, MISEP will host a 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament for the same age groups.


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