The first WEVZA U21 Beach Volleyball tournament hosted by the Portuguese Volleyball Federation has already gathered some of the ingredients that will allow all of those who will travel, this weekend (23-24 August), to Praia da Ribeira, at Albufeira do Azibo in Macedo de Cavaleiros, to view some excellent matches with some of the youngest promises of the European beach volleyball.

To the natural beauty of the venue where the stadium is staged – a landscape already considered one of Portugal’s seven wonders - , it will be added a sport that has been increasingly gaining more fans and that has in Macedo de Cavaleiros a reference at national level.

Diogo Maia / Tomas Silva and Bernardo Leite / José Jardim, in the men competition, and Margarida Reis / Maria Tinoco and Vanessa Paquete / Daniela Silva, in the women event, are the Portuguese teams that will fight for worthy results in the sport. The technical staff will be composed by Francisco Fidalgo and Ricardo Rocha, Pedro Carvalho and Hugo Madruga.

Diogo Maia (18 years old) that participated already in several international competitions (2 editions of the CPLP, U18 European Championships in Lithuania and the U20 European Championships in Austria) achieved along with Tomas Silva (19 years old) one of the most relevant results for the youngsters beach volley: the 9th place in the U19 World Championships held in Porto in 2013. Bernardo Leite (17 years old), ranked 25th in this year U19 WCh teams up with Jose Jardim (18 years old), also ranked 25th in the U19 Wch result that he added to the U20 national champion title.

Despite their international experience have been growing in the last years, the Portuguese players will have to play against even more experienced and eventually more ambitious event tough their youth.
From Netherlands travels a team favourite to the first places, since despite his 17 years old Jasper Bouter participated this year in 3 World Championships: U19 (ranked 4th) in Porto, U21 (17th) in Lanarca, Cyprus and U23 (41st) in Myslowice, Poland. Bouter will have as partner Jannes van der Ham (19 years old).

Spain brings two experienced teams.
Javier Huerta (17 years old) and Hugo Rojas (18 years old) were ranked, this year, 9th in the U19 WCh and in the CEV Youth Continental Cup Final in Antalya, Turkey, and last year 17th at the U18 ECh held in Molodechno, Belarus.
Pablo Penedo e Oscar Sanchez Baluja* have in their curriculum some relevant results: U17 national champions and U19 national vice-champions, ranked 3rd in the U17 National Championships (Galiza).
* Replaced Oscar Prades and Adrian Valles, absent by injury.

In the women competition Margarida Reis (19 years old) and Maria Tinoco (18), ranked 17th in the 2013 U19 WCh, are giving continuity to a partnership that allowed them  to achive, last year, the U20 national championship title.
Vanessa Paquete (19) ranked 17th in the 2013 U19 WCh and gold medal in the 2010 CPLP Games (Mozambique) teams up with Daniela Silva, a year younger and 33rd ranked in the U19 WCh.

The strongest opposition to the Portuguese ambitions may come from the neighbour Spain.
Aida Etxebarria (19 years old) and Nerea Izagirre (19) play together since 2013 being ranked 25th in the 2013 U20 ECh and achieving interesting results in national events. Maria Palet (19 years old) ranked 9th in the 2012 U18 ECh, plays with Carla Alocén (18) ranked 25th in the U18 ECh.

The team from Netherlands composed by Loladina Zwaanswijk (16 years old) and Marky Bak (19) have been achieving relevant results in their national BVB championships.

Francisco Fidalgo, national coach and coordinator of the Beach Volleyball High Performance Training Centres of the Portuguese NF, is conscientious of the opportunity that the WEVZA tournament constitutes for his young players, as well as the difficulties that they will face by playing athletes in constant evolution.
“Portugal, similarly to Spain and Netherlands, mainly in the men, will take this tournament to prepare for future events, such as the U20 ECh, and simultaneously to bring continuity to the work developed with the youngsters”, adding: “one of the ideas that was in the foundation of the WEVZA was the creation of more opportunities for the countries to be able to develop the work that have with the younger players. Even if in this first edition only three countries are represented, the path for the future will be the player’s massive participation, since the tournament represents an excellent opportunity for the players to compete with opponents with similar ages and already at a significant level. Even if it’s always premature to advance goals in terms of results, it’s obvious that we would like to obtain good results, since they are always important, even more since we play at home. Macedo de Cavaleiros as an amazing setting, unusual for this kind of international competitions, but that has welcomed for the 5th consecutive time, the finals of the BVB national championships, as well as the last finals of the Subs championships. It will be interesting to show, internationally, that we are able to integrate the sport in a scenario of extreme natural beauty, such as Albufeiro do Azibo.”