Volleyball players from around the world are going to be hitting the sand for the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale.
The tournament will have 16 two-person men and women’s teams, as well as four wild card teams, with the winning duo raking in $100,000.
“It’s a great place for beach volleyball -- the audience is knowledgeable and they’ll cheer loud,” said April Ross, a wild card player for the U.S. team. “They’re going to get a great show.”
The teams hail from the U.S., Brazil, the Netherlands, Austria, Canada, and more. With such a large Brazilian fan base in South Florida, those games are expected to be heavily attended.
According to a press release from the tournament staff, about 30,000 spectators are expected to show up for the games. The final men’s and women’s matches will be broadcasted live on Oct. 4 on NBC.
“South Florida is known all over the world,” Hannes Jagerhofer, Beach Majors CEO, said for why Fort Lauderdale was chosen to host the finals. “Everything is a perfect fit.”
Out Player Profile: Larissa França Maestrini
Hailing from Fortaleza, Brazil, the 33-year-old volleyball player hit the professional beach volleyball scene in 2001 after playing indoor volleyball for a number of years. She won a bronze medal in the Pan American Games in 2003 and also won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in 2012 with her partner. In 2005, she and her then-volleyball partner, Juliana Felisberta Silva, set a record for the highest single season earnings when they won $409,750 in winnings.
An openly out player, Franca Mestrini married her partner, Liliane Maestrini, also a beach volleyball player, in 2013. The two had come out as a couple -- and lesbian -- just a month prior. In Brazil, gay marriage has been legal since 2004.
“It is important to fight for what do you want,” she told SFGN. “Being a winner at the beach volleyball is not as easy as being one in life. But if you do just things that you like, it can be a little easier.”
IF YOU GO
What: Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals
Where: Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, 1100 Seabreeze Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale
When: Sept. 29 to Oct. 4
More Information: us.SwatchMajorSeries.com.