Thursday, February 27, 2014

Vanuatu Hockey enters Youth Olympic Qualifiers and promotes Vanuatu

By Vanuatu Hockey Management:  Youth Olympic Qualifiers for Vanuatu’s Newest Sport - Hockey in Vanuatu is still a relatively new sport. To explain it in this island land one usually needs to compare it to the Mighty Ducks – without the ice. However after only 5 years the sport has grown and developed rapidly. So much so that it is now the first sport in Vanuatu to Host an Official Olympic Event.
The Youth Olympic Hockey5 Qualifiers, to be held in Port Vila this March, is one of 5 qualifiers held around the world. Mens and womens U.18 teams from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji will be traveling to Vanuatu to compete for a place in the world’s most prestigious youth competitions – the Youth Olympics. Along with Officials over 100 people will be traveling across to Port Vila for the event.  After the redevelopment of the sports court as Wan Smolbag Youth Centre in November last year, The VHF now have a home base, and an international standard hockey field. The new surface, which was developed with the assistance of Australia and New Zealand Aid, has now put Vanuatu on the map as a hockey nation and was the ultimate reason Port Vila was selected at the Host of the upcoming games. 
Although not quite full sized the multipurpose astro turf is perfect for the latest international adaption of Hockey – Hockey5s. Hockey5s is an exciting variation of hockey – similar to the adaption of Futsal from Football. It is played on a smaller field with only five players and side boards around the field’s perimeter - keeping the action fast and furious. 
As a small federation with limited financial capacity, the VHF has worked tirelessly to ensure all preparations are complete and the tournament will be up to an international standard. A great deal of fundraising and sponsorship was needed to allow for successful preparations. The development of infrastructure around the field has been designed to assist the venue in the long term, providing sustainable results, future opportunities and also encourage more youth to come down to take advantage of the facilities. Similarly the VHF has been able to use this opportunity to train up local umpires and coaches, which will only assist the development of the federation in the future.  
As in line with Youth Olympic principles, this event looks to focus on more than just sport. The event will promote values to the young athletes around fair play, acceptance of cultural diversity and also awareness around health and nutrition. With the help of Wan Smolbag Youth Centre, nutritious local meals  will be provide to all athletes and officials. To provide a bit of cultural flair, custom dance and a local string band will be down throughout the event. 
The tournament is starting this coming Saturday 8th March – with the first game kicking off at 10.30am at Wan Smolbag, being New Zealand verse Fiji Women. Games will be played from Saturday to Monday with finals held on Tuesday 11th. The VHF would like to encourage all locals and tourists down to experience this new exciting sport here in Vanuatu – and support our young girls and boys with a chance to represent their country in the Youth Olympics – a very exciting prospect!