Donny Aru will be joining playing partner Joshua Toares on the flight to Apia, as the Vanuatu Men aim to bring home a medal from Samoa 2019 Pacific Games this month.
24-year-old Aru grew up on Ambae where he points out, indoor is the preferred form of the sport as little is known about beach volleyball.
“Beach volleyball is not popular where I come from, but I know that it is quite popular in Port Vila.
Back on our home island, we only play indoor volleyball,” he said.
Having competed well at the Provincial Games in Santo in 2016, Aru and his friend Frederick Lolomai were selected to join the training group for the national beach volleyball team in Port Vila.
“Now that I am involved in this sport, my friends and family continue to encourage me in training hard and focusing on what I want to achieve.
“I think that playing beach volleyball is better because there are only two people on the court and you can communicate perfectly between each other, plus you can travel a lot (internationally),” he said.
Aru said his preparations for the Pacific Games have involved a lot of gym work as well as skills training on court guided by the Vanuatu Volleyball Federation’s FIVB-funded Coach Michel Bargmann.
“Our coach Michel put me as the blocker alongside my partner Joshua Toares who will play as the defender when we play in the Pacific Games,” said Aru.
“He talks with me a lot and encourages me when I feel like giving up sometimes, but he’s always there to guide and keep me focused on my path in training.”
While Aru competed in the Van2017 Mini Games, he has never been to a full Pacific Games and that his participation in Samoa is a very big opportunity and honour for him to play in.
As for the opposition, he is most looking forward to playing against PNG and Australia because their players are strong and because they travel a lot for competition, Aru believes that playing against these teams will help him strengthen his skills and learn from them.
“I want to bring a Gold medal back to Vanuatu and bring happiness to our beach volleyball fans, friends and families who will be supporting Team Vanuatu back home,” he said.
Looking even further ahead, Aru wants to keep competing internationally and then eventually move into coaching.
“My goals are to travel to international tournaments and then to one day get a chance to become a beach volleyball coach and coach the young players in Vanuatu,” he said.
He admits that for him, his role models are his family, friends and the people inside his community who always pray and talk to him. They encourage him to keep on playing beach volleyball because it is his talent.
“I want to encourage all my friends who we train together and also the youths who are staying back at home and have nothing to do, that you can come down to the courts and get into training,” he said.
“Training is a lesson that we take inside our home and also through sport that will make us become a better player in the future.”