Belgium’s berth in the 2014 World Championship marks a long-awaited return for a team that debuted in the first World Championship in Czechoslovakia back in 1949, where they finished ninth. After missing the 1952 competition, the team showed great consistency to qualify for every World Championship but one from 1956 until 1978. During that stretch, the Belgians’ highest finish came in 1970, when they rose to eighth place. But after reaching seven of the first nine World Championships, Belgium failed to qualify again until this year.
Proof of their resurgence was seen at the 2013 European Championship, where they finished in a 23-year high seventh place after qualifying first from a group that included Italy, one of the world’s leading teams at the time. In the qualifying round, Belgium won all three of their matches before falling in the quarterfinals in four sets to Serbia, the team that ultimately took bronze at the tournament.
Further progress was made as the Red Dragons won the 2013 European League title before impressing again by finishing third in Group 2 on their World League debut this year.