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The Vanuatu Volleyball Federation last week hosted a two-day World ParaVolley Introductory Course in both Luganville and Port Vila.

With 15 participants in Santo and 24 in Port Vila, VVF was very pleased with the level of engagement in both locations.

Participants came from a broad cross-section of the community – coaches, para-athletes, the Vanuatu Disability Promotion and Advocacy Association, Vanuatu Paralympic Committee, Vanuatu Society for People with a Disability, Wan SmolBag, rehabilitation services, local community members and of course VVF staff.

It was the first time this course has been delivered anywhere in the world, having been recently designed by the two senior Asia Oceania ParaVolley instructors from Australia who delivered it – Glenn Stewart and Weiping Tu.

The course was a combination of theory and practical skills focussing on the rules and criteria, coaching techniques, drills and skills for Sitting Volleyball.

Glenn Stewart was impressed with the engagement he saw from both groups.

“The level of participation was outstanding. They were really enthusiastic (and) there was quite a mixture of knowledge and backgrounds,” said Stewart.

“The participants seemed to get a lot out of it and that’s what it was really all about – it was to provide some basic information and to kickstart programs and get people involved.”

VVF President, Debbie Masauvakalo says the original idea emerged from the Santo V4C staff who reached out last year to the 117 Ambae evacuees with disabilities, as they tried to assist in keeping them active through playing volleyball.

She organised this course in the hope of building a foundation which will enable the whole Vanuatu community to participate in the sport of volleyball.

“We reached out to World ParaVolley and asked them for assistance which came in the form of two instructors and the donation of equipment,” said Masauvakalo.

“Now we have some knowledge in the game (Sitting Volleyball) and everybody is very excited.

“There was huge enthusiasm from the coaches, school teachers and youth leaders and so I’m sure it will now continue to develop and one day in the future, Vanuatu will see its first Para-Volleyball team compete internationally.”

World ParaVolley facilitated the delivery of the course through funding from its International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Development Grant, while the VVFs hosting was supported by funding from its Australian-aid Pacific Sports Partnership program – facilitated by Volleyball Australia.