Six Roatan girls had to wait more than a year to realize their ambition to represent Honduras at the Central American volleyball championship tournament. But their time finally came in July.
The Seastars, all but two of them from the Roberto Stanley School in Sandy Bay, earned the right to participate in the CODICADER (Sports and Recreation Council for the Central American Isthmus) tournament by winning the Honduran national championship for the 12 and under division in 2012.
The Seastars had beaten a team from Arubia Welcome School for the Roatan title, then traveled to San Pedro Sula and beat squads from Vida Abundante of Tegucigalpa and the International School of San Pedro Sula (EIS) for the Honduran title.
However, because the Honduran sports authority owed $20,000 in back dues to CODICADER, Honduras was ineligible to send a team to the regional tournament in 2012. This year that financial problem was resolved, and it was agreed the winners of last year’s national tournament would travel to Panama for the Central American tournament.
“They cut out the nationals and now the winners from last year are going because of what happened last year,” said Gisselle Brady, the Seastars coach, at a pre-tournament practice July 9.
Unfortunately, three of the girls from last year’s national championship team were ineligible to participate this year, because they have since turned 13. Three younger girls took their places.
The team raised funds from the Roatan Rotary Club, Roatan Municipality and local businesses to cover their travel costs. They also had to pay for their uniforms, in the Honduran national colors.
“All the funding we got was from the island,” said Brady. “Luckily we raised enough to be able to fly.” She said the trip by bus would have taken two days.
For all but two of the girls, it was their first plane ride and their first trip outside Honduras. Two had never left the island before, except to La Ceiba to get their passports for this trip. Most were so excited they had already packed their bags three days before leaving.
The Seastars played in a round-robin group with Nicaragua, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Unfortunately, they lost to all three and did not advance to the second round of the tournament. There were also teams from Belize, Panama and El Salvador.
Despite the disappointing finish, the girls enjoyed what will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience for them, a delayed and deserved reward for last year’s championship performance.
Brady said the girls did not receive even a handshake from officials at last year’s national tournament in San Pedro Sula, perhaps because they had beaten the hometown favorites. This year, she said, they all got medals.