10th Indian Ocean Islands Games (IOIG), Mauritius July 19-28, 2019 | 27 July 2019
Seychelles on title defence quest this afternoon
Women’s volleyball reigning champions of the Indian Ocean Islands Games, Seychelles will be attempting to defend their title this afternoon, thus winning it for a third consecutive time. In front of them at the Pandit Sahadeo Gymnasium in Vacoas, Mauritius will be the Malagasy team.
A win against Madagascar today will mean the Seychelles women’s team will achieve a hat-trick of Indian Ocean Islands Games (IOIG) gold medal after they won the title in 2011 during the 8th Games on home soil and successfully defending it at the 9th Games in Reunion in 2015.
Defending the title is not a new thing for Team Seychelles who successfully defended the gold medal in 2003, coincidentally in Mauritius during the 6th IOIG, after winning it for the first time during the previous Games in 1998 in Reunion.
For this year’ competition Seychelles were drawn in pool B alongside Reunion and Maldives.
In their first match, the girls of coach Julien Onezime beat Maldives 3-0 (25-12, 25-12, 25-23), while in their second group match against Reunion they narrowly lost 2-3. The set scores were 14-25, 28-26, 18-25, 25-18 and 11-15.
In the semifinal match on Thursday against hosts Mauritius, Seychelles beat the ‘Dallons’ 3-1 inside a packed Pandit Sahadeo Gymnasium in front of Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth. The set scores were 25-19, 19-25, 25-22 and 25-20.
Krwar e Reisir magazine spoke to coach Onezime who said that other than for some minor constraints, the competition has been going well.
He explained that the major issues were organisation and logistic-related, rather than the competition itself.
Coach Onezime said that apart from the long distance between the accommodation and venue, the cold weather is also a major factor as it affects the team’s performance at times.
Another issue is the timing of the matches which the Seychelles coach said is inappropriate as matches are played too late, thus preventing the other athletes coming to the venue to bring their support when Seychelles teams are playing other teams, especially Mauritius who have the backing of their very vocal supporters.
Regarding the team’s performance, coach Onezime explained that due to the below-par performance against Maldives who are not strong opponents, they had to step up their game against Reunion in preparation for the semifinal against Mauritius who had the backing of their public.
He further explained that Reunion were not necessarily stronger than Seychelles, but he rather used the match as preparation for the semifinal.
As for today’s final, coach Onezime said it is a ‘do or die’ situation which will entirely depend on the level of determination and motivation of the players.
Krwar e Reisir managed to get the views of one of Seychelles’ finest during her playing days, setter Marille Benoit, who has been following very closely the matches and progression of the Seychelles selection at the 10th Games.
Benoit was a member of the team who won gold in 1998 and was also part of the defending crew who managed to get the job done. She was also a member of the team who lost the same gold medal to Reunion in Madagascar in 2007.
The double gold medallist agreed to share her views regarding the 2019 selection.
Krwar e Reisir: As an ex-national team player and double gold medallist at the IOIG, what are your views on the present selection at the 10th Games?
Marille Benoit: I have been following them closely and I have noticed that the players are young with a lot of potential and they have been giving some good performances so far. But, in my opinion, they are missing at least one seasoned player with years of experience to act as team leader and guide them on the court, especially during difficult situations when young players can easily get frustrated and lose their focus. Other than that, they have been doing a good job so far.
Krwar e Reisir: How would you comment on their performance?
Marille Benoit: Against Mauritius in the semifinal it was an excellent performance as they kept up their fighting spirit even if the Mauritians had the advantage of the backing of their public. They were mentally strong despite the crowd cheering for their opponents. I can also say that coach Julien (Onezime) played a significant role in keeping the team focus and they are following his advice well and executing them to the point, despite the lack of a good setter which is clearly apparent. A good setter would have changed the playing strategy and increase the pace of the match.
Krwar e Reisir: What is your prognostic for the final against Madagascar?
Marille Benoit: I am convinced that Seychelles can win, but only if they play their game and start attacking from the beginning as we have more powerful attackers than Madagascar. Madagascar defend very well, so we should keep attacking all the balls and play a lot of rapid attacks. We have a huge advantage over Madagascar through our two tall rapid players, we should therefore make use of them from the beginning to get the edge against Madagascar. If we allow Madagascar to take the lead we will be in big trouble and the match could go to five sets.
Roland Duval in Mauritius