Our Vanuatu Rowers Luigi Teilemb, Rio Rii and Georges Langa have returned from the Australian National Championships having acquitted themselves very well against world class competition.
As any sporting club here in Vanuatu will tell you, organising and financing teams to travel overseas to compete is a complicated, time consuming and expensive exercise. The old adage of “Many hands make light work” is just as true for the planning for international competitions.
The Port Vila Rotary Club organised a Lagoon Cruise for fund raising for tickets, unifirms, visas and insurance. Port Vila Rotary donated 25,000 vatu to support Georges Langa’s first entry in an international para rowing regatta. Vanua Spirit donated 8 tracksuits as part of the new look uniform package for the Elite Rowing Squad. Vila Distribution donated champagne as a raffle prize. The staff at the Visa Office in Port Vila and Maina from Vanuatu Tourism Office assisted with advice, support and data entry for visa applications. Aon provided prompt support to secure last minute travel insurance. Greg Pechan and the team from Pacific Catering, as always, delivered “above and beyond” culinary expectations with the food provided for the Lagoon Cruise fund-raiser. But the team effort was not just limited to the local Port Via community.
Tara Huntley, Liaison Officer from Para Rowing Australia, heard of Margaret Macfarlane’s Para Rowing Program and contributed funds, equipment and organisational support for Georges Langa – Vanuatu’s and the Pacific’s first para rower.
As well, to try to minimise expenses the Rowing Club looked for Australian host families in Sydney. Rotarian Rennie and Robyn Schmid offered their home to feed and accommodate the team over the last part of the Regatta as well as to host them on the Sunday they had off before returning to Port Vila. Rennie Schmid is President Elect of Lower Blue Mountains Rotary Club and in addition serves on the Club Board as Director Foundation/International.
Rennie commented on the young men in an e-mail to the Club praising their integrity, manners and spirit. “I am sure that they enter these events at a disadvantage when compared to Australian and other competing countries with professional coaches, planned programs and diets. Amongst their busy rowing schedule, we managed to do a little site seeing. We went to see the Three Sisters and Wentworth Falls on Sunday and they enjoyed some KFC on Sunday evening. In Rotary we would see this support as important and adding to helping the Vanuatu community engage in the world community in a sustainable way.”
There’s a rumour that the novelty of a dishwasher at the Schmid home was a particular highlight.
Rennie Schimd closed his email by saying that his family often hosts overseas visitors or teams but were particularly impressed by our rowers, “These young rowers represent the heart and soul of Vanuatu. The boys were magnificent ambassadors for Vanuatu and for the sport of Rowing. We thoroughly enjoyed hosting them and considered it an honour.”