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The business end of this 4-yearly Olympic journey is again on-track, with the path to Paris taking shape and leading to the June final phases for qualification.

Returning to the Vanuatu National Beach Volleyball program as part of this journey, in the role of national coach is Federica Tonon, who, it has to be said, has never really been far away, since officially leaving the national coaching role in late 2021.

With Michel Bargmann’s brief Pacific Games-focussed return now concluded, Tonon is again stepping up with her coaching focus on getting Team Vanuatu prepped for Paris.

(L-R) Tini, Federica, Miller & Steve at FIVB event Greece in 2022

Having worked with the team towards their attempt at qualifying for Tokyo in 2021, she then assisted from her home base in Europe, as part of the coaching team which underpinned success there in early 2022, where Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko won an FIVB tournament title in Lecce, Italy, among other strong results, ahead of competing at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the UK, where they secured a 2nd consecutive CG Bronze medal.

(L-R) Eleno, Federica and Stephanie at the 2023 Youth Comm Games

Last year, Tonon returned briefly to Port Vila, to again support VVF, as an FIVB Instructor to deliver a coaching workshop and certify new local coaches. She followed this up with overseeing the national Youth BV team, teenagers Stephanie Joel and Eleno Moule, with the three travelling to Trinidad & Tobago to represent Vanuatu at the 2023 Youth Commonwealth Games.

In 2024, Federica is returning full-time with a busy schedule over the next 4-5 months, as Team Vanuatu makes yet another attempt to represent at an Olympic Games, having come so close to qualifying over the past 12 years.

Tonon herself represented Italy on the international volleyball stage, but has also taken on various coaching roles over the past two decades, the least of which has been her time with Vanuatu in recent years.

Underlining her strong commitment to the development of women in sport and more particularly to the development of female coaches, Tonon is a recent graduate of the prestigious ‘WISH’ Program, an IOC Olympic Solidarity initiative, and even had the honour of delivering the final graduation speech.

Federica in one of the WISH program group sessions

The Women In Sport High-performance pathway program is a key element of the IOC’s efforts to achieve gender equality at all levels in sport, with the under-representation of women in elite coaching ranks as one of the bigger challenges.

The 4-year program is designed to equip around 100 women for coaching at elite levels, and there is no doubt Tonon will bring much of that expertise and knowledge to her role at VVF.

Tonon is hitting the ground running, set to join the Vanuatu players in Australia from mid-February for an FIVB Futures tournament in NSW, followed by a trip across the ditch to New Zealand for another FIVB event at the familiar and much-loved NZ beach volleyball location of Mt Maunganui.

Following that, VVF still has plans to send Team Vanuatu to Tahiti then China, for a spate of FIVB Futures tournaments, all in the lead-up to the Continental Cup finals, vying for that much sought after Olympic spot with Paris 2024 set to kick off in late July.

Welcome home Federica!