Nats take nets to Quebec

KEN WIEBE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:36 AM ET

On a day that included one piece of good news and one piece of bad news, Jon Blacher opted for the glass half-full approach.

Volleyball Canada announced yesterday that Winnipeg will continue to be the home of the national women's team until at least 2012, but the men's team is moving to Gatineau, Que. after this season. They will officially move east early in 2009.

"I try to look at the positive side of things and I have to accept the decision of the bid group," said Blacher, the director of operations for Team Canada Volleyball. "It was made with the best interest of the men's program in mind, for them to continue moving forward and to achieve bigger and better things in the future.

"The glass half full is that we're still the host of the women's team and we should be proud of that."

Each centre will host the teams for the four years leading into the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.

The national team staff will remain in tact at the University of Manitoba, while the Volleyball Canada offices will relocate to the new training centre in Gatineau.

The belief is that placing the men's and women's programs in two different cities, each team should have more resources available to them, which could translate into better on-court success.

Winnipeg has been the host of the women's team since 1991 and housed both the men and the women since 1997.

"It's been a good ride," said Blacher. "Winnipeggers and Manitobans should be proud of what we've been able to accomplish for 12 years and 16-plus for the women.

Team Canada setter Mike Munday, himself a Winnipegger, was having mixed feelings after hearing about the move.

"It's going to be tough for me because my family is here, but it's probably best for the team to have a new beginning," said Munday.

The men's team will host the Pan American Cup next week and the tournament, which begins Monday and wraps up Saturday, serves as a sort of farewell.

"It makes it more special for the men competing here and for the volleyball and sport enthusiasts who will hopefully come out and support the event, support the team and the athletes," said Blacher. "It might be one of the last opportunities to see the men's team compete in Winnipeg for a long time."

"Hopefully the younger players realize the importance of putting on a good show for all the volunteers and all the staff that have helped us over the last 12 years," added Munday. "This tournament is a way of saying thank you to them. Hopefully, we can do well."

Members of the women's team were in transit to Mexico for the Pan American Cup yesterday and were unavailable for comment.


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