PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A volleyball tournament brought Prem Persaud and Isabella Thayer-Persaud together. The couple met by chance on a sandy court in Treasure Island on New Year’s Eve in 2017.
“I said, ‘Hey, would you like to start playing in a league together, a coed league, just us two together every Monday night?’” recalled Persaud.
He could not have been more direct.
“I was straight up with her from the beginning,” said Persaud. “I am interested in you but, also, we could play together, which made it even better.”
“We played that weekend,” added Thayer-Persaud, “and we pretty much hung out every weekend since then.”
The two of them share a passion for the sport of beach volleyball and, now, they share a company. It is called SSOVA, Sunshine State Outdoor Volleyball Association. Although the business was created in 2004, the couple did not acquire it until 2020.
“Our whole goal is to grow the sport with great quality so that it can last into the future,” explained Thayer-Persaud.
“If one day we would like to have kids and they want to play beach volleyball one day,” said Persaud, “I want them to be able to play properly and play the right formats, all of it.”
They are determined to do it correctly running tournaments to the best of their abilities to benefit the players as well as the environment.
“Everything, from the organization down, is to take care of each other,” said Persaud. “Let’s be nice to each other. Let’s be respectful. Games can be really aggressive but we promote good sportsmanship and it definitely shows.”
Their tournaments are platforms for future Olympians too. They have seen it in the past and, with the Tokyo Olympics around the corner, they are even more eager to share this sport with the world.
“[The athletes] are playing for their future, for college scholarships, and their chance to go to the Olympics and we have a lot of amazing talent here in Tampa Bay,” said Thayer-Persaud. “It has probably become the biggest hub for volleyball, especially since COVID since we were the ones running more so than other states. We have seen a huge influx of people moving down here to play volleyball so it is really beneficial when you know you are putting out a program here where people can develop not only their interpersonal skills but develop their careers. We have kids that are going pro and we have adults right now too in this area who are competing and going pro and competing in the AVP or trying to get to the Olympics so it is just a really awesome, worthwhile cause and it is super fun.”
SSOVA is hosting a tournament in Treasure Island on Saturday and Sunday, July 17 and July 18. You can find it behind the Bilmar Beach Resort and the Thunderbird Beach Resort, which are located on Gulf Boulevard.
You can participate in the tournament if you register here before 3 p.m. on Friday, July 16.
You can also attend the tournament as a spectator. The action will start around 8:30 a.m. and it should be finished around 4:00 or 5:00 in the evenings on both days.