There an old saying – “If you never, ever try; you’ll never ever know!
Jean Noel Anis, Sports Development Officer at Wan Smol Bag and long-serving Board member of the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee (VPC) is planning a “Come and Try” Talent Identification Day at Wan Smol Bag in November.
“We have some fantastic opportunities coming up soon for para-athletes. Oceania Paralympic Committee and the AGITOS Foundation are fully funding a team of 5 new parathletes to travel to Australia with a coach and manager to the Arafura Games. The Arafura Sea is the ocean between Northern Territory and Indonesia. So teams will come from Australia, PNG, Indonesia, Timor and other Asian nations. Very importantly, we’ll have classifiers attending who can undertake physical examinations of our new athletes and put them into the right competition categories – a very important part of becoming a recognised parathlete,” Noel explains.
He continues: “In 2019, there’s the Provincial Games in Tanna in May. Then we have the Oceania Games in Townsville in June, followed by the Pacific Games in Samoa in July where we’ll be sending 5 parathletes in running, shot put and javelin and 4 para table tennis players. After that, we have the World Championships in Dubai in November. A really busy year. Of course the end target is a Vanuatu Parathletic’s Team to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo on July 2020!”
The big problem is finding promising new talent. The VPC already has a small core of classified parathletes like Friana Kwevira, Marcelline Moli and Peter Dick but really needs to broaden the base of our parathletes – especially in rural areas. There is already a small squad in Isangel, Tanna working with Timothy Loughman. They want more athletes too! In November, the VPC coaches will go to Luganville to see the established para-athletes but also to hopefully find new, exciting talent and possible coaches. Then they’ll go onto Malekula to find new athletes and coaches around Lakatoro.
“We have sent trainee coaches already to Australia, Fiji, Tokyo and currently, Deni Kalenga is in Paris. Next year, we are sending coaches to Fiji, Darwin, Dubai and Samoa!”
The workshop at Wan Smol Bag is to encourage new parathletes living in Mele, Blacksands and around Vila to come and try a new sporting activity. At the very least, participating in sport is good for improving health and meeting new friends but it might also lead to representing Vanuatu, international travel and medal opportunities. If you have a friend or family member living with a disability, encourage and support them to come along and try!