Vanuatu women proving cricket is for everyone
It took an online fundraising campaign to bring them here, but the Vanuatu women's cricket team, led by captain Selina Solman, are making the most of their opportunities at the Samoa 2019 XVI Pacific Games.
The 24-year-old from the volcanic island of Tanna says there were no expectations coming into the Games, and their focus was to "just to do our best, and go for anything".
While the unseasonable weather of the first four days has proved challenging for cricket, videos of the team dancing during rain delays have gone viral. And with play now starting to settle into a pattern, the Vanuatu women are finding their rhythm on the pitch too.
After an opening loss to Samoa, Vanuatu beat Fiji before losing to favourites PNG and beating Fiji again. With two won, two lost, Friday's final round-robin matches will be crucial in determining whether Vanuatu contest gold or bronze in the medal matches.
Solman is one of the most experienced players in the side, having made her debut in 2014 in Japan. She has also played alongside Australian international Alex Blackwell in an international select side.
Women's cricket has been around for less than a decade in Vanuatu, but Solman says it has come a long way. After recently hosting the ICC East Asia-Pacific qualifier for the Women's T20 World Cup, which was won by PNG, Solman is looking forward to one day being able to represent Vanuatu in that tournament.
When asked what she likes about playing cricket as a woman she said, without hesitation: "cricket has no size limits - big or small, cricket is for everyone".
Solman confirmed that although the Vanuatu women's team do not get paid, they play out of passion. And with an increasing number of young girls registering for club teams in Vanuatu, she believes the passion for the game is being passed on to younger generations.
Play will continue on 12 July at Cricket Ovals Faleata with the final round-robin matches and semi-finals. Entry is free.
Source: Samoa 2019