It’s been a busy couple of months for the Vanuatu Beach volleyballers with eased COVID-19 restrictions allowing them back on the international competition stage.
Using strong Australian ties to support their efforts in both high-performance training and competition preparedness, the National Women’s squad has spent the past month in Queensland.
Sherysyn Toko and Bella Lawac arrived in Australia with coach Steve Anderson in early May after participating in the qualifying rounds for an FIVB Futures Tournament in Thailand.
The two members of the VVF Women’s squad immediately began training on the Gold Coast.
As part of their preparation for the major competitions ahead, the pair also underwent some rigorous testing processes with VVFs partner ACU Physiotherapy, a collaboration made possible under the Australian Government’s Pacific Aus Sports initiative.
The physio team of Brooke, Liam and Sarah, provided assessment and treatment support for the elite athletes as a part of the ongoing collaboration between VVF and the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane.
The Vanuatu pair were soon joined from Port Vila by their teammates and respective playing partners Miller Pata and Loti Joe.
A couple of weeks into the training program came an opportunity for the squad to travel to Canberra and spend a few days at the Australian Institute of Sport where they combined with the Volleyball Australia Development squad for both training sessions and some friendly hit-outs.
The Australian development team management were suitably impressed with what they saw from the Pacific athletes.
“With Team Vanuatu having won the Bronze medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games four years ago, they come with plenty of experience (and) a wonderful game style.”
Over three days of match play at the AIS beach courts, the AVA women enjoyed the opportunity to test their game against the international experience of the Vanuatu pairs, underlining the importance of collaborations such as this in the development of the sport and its athletes across the Oceania region.
To wrap up their time in Australia, the VVF Women’s squad returned to their Gold Coast base and participated in the GAPS camp – a Commonwealth program for emerging athletes and coaches, which aims to support the development of inclusive sport pathways – in preparation for the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July.
Both women’s pairs will head in opposite directions with the main pairing of Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko travelling to Europe for FIVB tournaments ahead of the Birmingham 2022 in late July, while Loti Joe and Majabelle Lawac will head to Saipan to join the Team Vanuatu contingent competing in the Mini Pacific Games in Saipan in mid-June.