Australia’s Barry Couzner, who has been the guiding force behind four previous WOVD Standing Volleyball World Cups in the last 10 years, arrived in Phnom Penh yesterday to assume charge as the tournament director for the 2011 edition at the National Sports Complex on Saturday.
A proud recipient of Australia’s highest sports award, The Medal of Honour, in 2008 for his outstanding contribution to volleyball, Couzner has been involved in several capacities as a volunteer for the World Organisation Volleyball for Disabled. He made his debut as a tournament director in Slovakia in 2001, where Cambodia made their international debut. He was also in charge of Greece in 2003, Canada in 2005 and Cambodia in 2007.
Couzner sat down with Post sports writer H S Manjunath for a comprehensive interview on the challenges a tournament director faces and the tasks he has to perform to ensure the smooth running of the event.
On technical standards:
The hardest part is the day before the event. My main job is to ensure that the technical standards set by WOVD are met. For example the courts, set up, net system, quality of volleyballs [all need to adhere to official standards].
Basically, classification ensures a level playing field for all. We have two WOVD classifiers here in Phnom Penh – Dr Ma from China and Dr Margaret Durant from Malaysia. Prior to the event these two classifiers check each and every player and conduct physical tests to determine their classifications.
There are three levels of classification. Level A is players with least disability. Only one player of this level can be court [at any one time].
At the other end, Level C represents players with the most disability, like amputations below the elbow or knee. One C Class player has to be on court all the time.
Players classified as B are of medium disability and they make up the other four spots in a team.
There are players who are given permanent classification cards and other players fall into the temporary classification category. The classifiers watch the players in action to assess the impact of their disability on the skills of volleyball, and in some cases the classifications could change.
On pre-match protocol:
For the first time in the history of the WOVD World Cup, we are introducing pre-match protocol to be followed by every team. The world governing body FIVB has modified the pre-match protocols and we are falling in line.
This is to ensure a uniformity in the introduction of teams, and referees, the playing of the national anthems, warm-ups before the game etc. This is primarily to take account of live television coverage.
On the preliminary enquiry:
This is the first and most important step on the organisational front. At this enquiry we go through the official team lists, check the uniforms and the numbers allotted to every player on the final list and ensure that the colours teams wear meet the advertising standards and guidelines set by the WOVD.
On the appeals committee:
We have two appeals committees in place to deal with any protests by the teams during the event.
On the technical team:
As the tournament director, I have twelve other officials in my team. They are the two classifiers, a referees’ delegate and a referees’ officer, and eight ITOs [international technical officials].