Although volleyball practice in Cuba started as early as the first decade of the 19 th century, its real expansion did not take place until the triumph of the revolution in 1959.
This sport was known in the capital and only some other scattered towns. Such was the case of Jiguaní, a little town of the former Oriente province, source of many players that later conformed the first teams that participated in some international competitions like the Central American and Caribbean Games held in Barranquilla, Colombia, in 1946.
From the first generation of Cuban volleyball players, there were some outstanding ones like Olegario Moreno, who later directed the activities related to sport in his province after the creation, in 1961, of the Cuban Sport Institute (INDER), the state organ who regulates the sport-related activities in the island.
The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) was founded in 1947. The first world championship was celebrated in 1949 and then a periodicity of 4 years was established since 1952. In the beginning of the male competitions, the countries achieving best results were the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Czechoslovakia .
Among women, the most outstanding teams were also those of the USSR together with Chinese and Japanese teams. Specifically a female team of the land of the rising sun, the “wizard girls” of the 1960’s, was nominated by the FIVB as the best team of the last century.
Cuba is also one of the countries displaying important results in volleyball, be it with its male or its female teams.
The women, most of the time playing under the wise direction of the manager Eugenio George, the best trainer of the 20 th century according to FIVB, have crowned themselves world champions in 1978, 1994, and 1998.
The Cuban sport commentators have baptized the female team as “the spectacular Caribbean browns”, owing not only to the fact of having won three world titles, but also three Olympic medals, Barcelona’92, Atlanta’96, and Sydney’00, in addition to a hardly-fought bronze medal in Athens’04, a prowess never attained by any other country in the history of the most dynamic and creative team sport.
From Atlanta , one remembers the defeats of the team against Brazil and Russia in the classification phase. Nevertheless, they quickly recovered from the fall and, as only true champions can do, they won memorable games against the very Brazil team and China , in the gold medal match.
In that last game, it was decisive the performance of Mireya Luis, Regla Torres, Regla Bell, and Magaly Carvajal to win the game and the second Olympic title for the team, and for Cuba.
Regla Torres, a player of the three teams having conquered the Olympic titles, was chosen the best player of the last hundred years, while Mireya Luis, one of the most dear volleyball veterans, is acting since the moment of her retirement after 15 years in the luxury team, as a member of the Athlete Commission of the International Olympic Committee (COI) following a proposal of its former president, the Spaniard Juan Antonio Samaranch.
It can be said that the volleyball generation of the 1990’s has found a promising relay, which could be appreciated in the Olympic Tournament of the Greek capital. This new generation of female volleyball arrived to the top-three, despite not being given much chance, also in the company of Eugenio George, this time assisting the coach Luis Felipe Calderón.