Stories of Change

Meet Tom Kalmet

Tom Kalmet is 61 years of age and currently working at Vanuatu Society for People with Disability (VSPD) as the Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) fieldworker for over two years. He worked in the catering business for 16 years with Air Vanuatu but when COVID-19 hit he became jobless and stayed home. He since has been working at VSDP for the past two years.

He started playing sports in the year 2000 when two Australian volunteers came and conducted trainings at Korman stadium. Both volunteers were paralympic games athletes and had a lot of experience playing sitting volleyball on the world stage.

Both Tom and a friend originally from the island of Efate were selected to play sitting volleyball for three months in Australia in 2001.

Tom likes playing sitting volleyball because you don’t sit down the whole time. You move around a lot, and it helps to improves your fitness. Even though you are sitting it doesn’t mean you’re not moving.
Disability comes in different forms, but we are all human at the end of the day. So, the game is not just for those with disability, it’s for every human (everyone).

Tom encourages people to try new things in life and join him play sitting volleyball.
The common mentality is that only education and work can take you places. Sports can also take you to experience different countries and cultures. Sports has given Tom the opportunity to tour and travel the world. If you want to travel and see the world play a sport, come play sitting volleyball.

Meet Samuel Maso

Samuel Maso is 13 years old and is currently in grade seven at Kawenu Secondary School in Vanuatu. Samuel started playing beach volleyball in his school sporting activities, and later began attending the after-school beach volleyball program with his peers. He enjoys playing and making new friends at the program and will be attending again next year.

Samuel walks from his school to the beach volleyball compound every Friday afternoon. After the games and training, he walks home with his friends back home. His parents don’t get upset when gets home late as they are aware of his after-school activities and fully support him.
He dreams of being a professional beach volleyball player one day and wants to train hard to achieve his dream. Samuel understands that to play professionally you must train and work very hard every day and he is already doing that by coming to the Friday games and trainings.

Samuel has noticed that a high number of the students attending the program are girls and only a small number of boys. This is because boys in Vanuatu generally believe that beach volleyball is a game for girls. Another reason is they do not have supportive parents.

There are a high number of young people in Samuel’s neighborhood that do not go to school and get involved in mischief, such as smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, and gang activities. Samuel encourages all young people to play sports. It will help their physical and mental health and give them opportunities to travel overseas and see other places.

Samuel’s aunt is Vanuatu’s renown beach volleyball player Henriette Iatika. He wants to be like her one day and travel the world flying Vanuatu’s flag and playing beach volleyball.

Meet Trevor & Danimon Kalpat

Trevor and Danimon Kalpat, and both their beautiful kids all play beach volleyball. Danimonis originally from Ambae island and her family love playing volleyball. This was what drove Trevor to join the sport and play too.

Previously his wife was the only one in the family that would attend the beach volleyball games, but every time she would think about her husband and kids at home. She decided to bring all of them along with her to be part of the games. Now they are a regular at the courts and take turns taking care of their kids while the other is playing.
Family Kalpat use their free time to attend trainings and games. They are fortunate to own a car that helps them to move around faster and get to the courts.

Danimon points out that there is a lower number of women to men playing beach volleyball because once they get pregnant, they stop playing. The typical Vanuatu mindset is the moment you have kids you have to stop playing sports. She encourages mothers to go back and play because it will also improve their mental and physical health.

That includes bringing your children and husband to the beach volleyball games or any other sports discipline. Since attending the beach volleyball matches it has sparked the interest of their daughter Enya. She is seven years old and now joins the after-school program, making her the smallest and youngest playing in the under 12 category.

Trevor and his wife also encourage other young people and families to play beach volleyball. The sport is not like football and basketball where you must move around in a bigger playing field to score points. Beach volleyball requires a smaller area making it ideal for people that are not fit for running around a big field. This is the sport for you!

Family Kalpat love beach volleyball because you get to train and play with elite players, gold medalists, and a mixed category of players. They also find the environment welcoming and friendly, and you don’t have to pay any fee to use the facilities. You are free and welcome to train and play any time.

Meet Lawac Majabelle

Lawac Majabelle, known as Belle for short, is 21 years old and hails from the island of Malekula in Vanuatu. She started playing beach volleyball in 2019 for secondary school competitions. After the competitions, her interest in the sport grew and she attended trainings every day. She was excited and surprised when she was selected to play 4×4 beach volleyball in Qatar. Belle was studying at Montmartre secondary school at that time.

Both Belle and Chantalle, her partner at the Qatar games started playing beach volleyball as juniors. She was a very shy young girl, but beach volleyball has helped build her self-confidence, teamwork, and communications abilities. This means talking and communicating more with her partner in the games, playing in front of big crowds, and doing live interviews with the media.

Coaching little kids beach volleyball is something she really enjoys, and it builds her relationship with them. It is a great feeling to be viewed as a coach and role model for the younger generation. She is happy to share her knowledge with the children because she believes that God gave her the knowledge and sharing it will make her gain more knowledge and skills in return.

Belle faces a lot of challenges in her life with both her parents being sick, but that has not stopped her from doing what she loves. She never got to complete her high school studies andhas pursued beach volleyball more. Her parents support her unconditionally and want her to pursue and achieve her dreams. They push her to play beach volleyball no matter what and are always proud of her achievements.

Sports has helped mold Belle’s mental and physical health. It helps her to forget and see beyond her ongoing personal issues and challenges at home. It is her safe space.

She see’s herself five years down the road becoming a coach and eventually a permanent staff developing beach volleyball in the country and supporting young people in sports in Vanuatu.

Belle encourages all young people to play sports to builds your confidence and physical health. If she can do it, so can you.