• Jamal Vira (VASANOC)

Hockey teams about to embark on a remarkable journey

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

THE Vanuatu boys and girls under 18 hockey teams are set to embark on an amazing sporting adventure when they jet off to South America next week.

The teams will be competing against the cream of the world’s hockey nations in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina from later next week.

Vanuatu’s boys’ team manager, Todd Kitto, told The Independent Online news that it is an amazing feat by both teams to be able to compete at this level in such a prestigious event.

“There will be a new stadium, a new Olympic athletes’ village we will be staying in, so it will be just an incredible experience for all of us,” he said.

The teams will also be accompanied by Nasse Maltungtungtung (boys’ coach), Jen Bowtell (girls’ coach) and Kathleen Kalsav Aru (girls’ team manager).

Todd said both teams will be competing in a competition that consists of two schools of six nations.

“And it will be incredibly hard for our teams, but we can only try and be at our best,” he said.

“For example the girl’s team first play Argentina, who are the number one team in the world, then they go against India who are in the top five and then South Africa who are in the top ten, so that shows the mountain we have to climb.”

Todd said the boy’s team face a similar obstacle in their section.

“It is just amazing that a country this size has two teams competing at this Olympic level and we are the only team from Oceania except for Australia,’’ he said.

“Hockey has only been played in Vanuatu for about 10 years so this is just a fairytale story – so we don’t want people in Vanuatu thinking it’s a failure if they see score lines of 10 or 20 to nil.

“This will be just a great learning experience, because we have some finance from the Oceania Hockey Federation, but countries like Argentina spend a fortune on hockey and have done so for a very long time.”

Todd said given the success of the two junior teams, he expected the next generation of senior sides should be very competitive internationally.

“We must be sure that we consider the elite level and not just concentrate on the grass roots areas,’’ he said.

“But for now we will enjoy this time, have fun and learn from it all.’’

By: Tony Wilson (Independent Vanuatu)


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