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Belgium’s The Yellow Tigers

They deserve all the attention!

Their success as of late has given the sport of volleyball in their country a tremendous lift and we <3 it!

Just like their men’s team, Belgium’s women’s volleyball team continues to soar high since winning the bronze medal at the 2013 European Championship. A few weeks ago, The Yellow Tigers also qualified for the 2014 FIVB Women’s World Championship for the first time in 36 years. Lise Van Hecke and Team will compete at the 2014 Grand Prix later this year.

Here’s an excerpt from an article released by the FIVB:

The spectacular success for Belgian volleyball has not come about by chance, but is the result of many years of development, talent scouting and outstanding work with promising youngsters, including 20 hours of volleyball practice per week. Many of today’s successful players have been playing together in the national youth teams for the last decade. Among the successes enjoyed by these youth teams was gold for the Belgian girls at the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, when they overcame the volleyball power that is USA. Another key to the success currently being enjoyed is the experience gained by the best Belgian players at top clubs in professional leagues around the world. The years of work and money invested by the national federation and the Belgian Olympic Committee is just starting to pay off.

The ladies’ national team had already caught the eye last year with bronze at the European Championship – the largest international success for Belgian volleyball to date. Last summer, the “Yellow Tigers” played 38 matches, losing just four – all against Germany. Their coach Giovanni Guidetti, who also coaches World Club Champions Vakifbank Istanbul, is full of praise for the progress made by Belgium’s volleyball queens: “They have developed enormously and deserve their place among the top teams in Europe.”

This evaluation was backed up emphatically by the displays at last weekend’s World Championship qualifiers. Led by the magnificent setter Frauke Dirickx, hosts Poland were dispatched 3-0 despite the euphoric home support in the huge arena in Lodz. This gave the Belgians a perfect record of three wins. “We played very well in defence and block, which was the main trouble for them. We also served well and I think we deserve this qualification. The level of this match was very high, but the pressure of the crowd was on them and it helped us a lot,” coach Gert Vande Broek said after his team’s success against one of volleyball’s powerhouses.

His team has arrived in the world elite: this is confirmed by the first ever appearance in the FIVB World Grand Prix, where Poland, Peru, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, Argentina, Canada and Cuba await. The prestigious competition will also serve as excellent preparation for the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship, which takes place in Italy from September 23 to October 12.

Like the Belgian men, this will be the first appearance in the World Championships for 36 years, and the first ever for the “Yellow Tigers”. And there is a special story behind this too: Lise Van Hecke, the strong attacker who plays her volleyball in Italy, was key to the Belgians qualifying. The last time a team from Belgian played at the World Championships in 1978, her mother Lieve Van de Velde was representing her country.

It looks unlikely, after the spectacular double qualification for the World Championships, that Belgian volleyball will have to endure such a long baron run again. Men’s coach Dominique Baeyens revealed the next goal for the “Red Dragons” and “Yellow Tigers” – “The Olympic Games are the next step.” Belgian’s volleyball stars will be confident they can accomplish that mission too.

We totally dig the picture above! The Yellow Tigers were featured on Het Nieuwsblad Magazine after qualifying for the World Champs.

It looks like 2014 will be another fruitful year for Belgian volleyball!

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