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Hard road to Rio for Vanuatu’s volleyball duo

Saturday 26 March 2016 | Published in Regional

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VANUATU – Vanuatu beach volleyball duo Linline Matauatu and Miller Pata feature in a new documentary film that follows athletes from developing countries as they attempt to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

The documentary film, A Fighting Chance, also features athletes from Lesotho and the Dominican Republic.

The president of Vanuatu Volleyball, Debbie Masauvakalo said the film was screened at the South by South West Festival in Texas and will feature at next month’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

The Vanuatu volley ballers are currently sitting at 17th place in the Olympic rankings. They must make the top 15 to get to Rio and they have ten tournaments remaining to make the cut. If they fail to do so they have a few other more complicated qualifying options available.

“The final cut-off date is on the 12th of June and then if we’re not in the top 15 on that datge we will fly them over to Sydney for the Asian Continental Cup final with all the other top Asian teams.

“If we win that event we could go through to the Olympics, taking the Asian Olympic berth, but if we come second or third we then have to fly both teams over to Russia for the World Cup.

“If we come first or second from that World Cup in July then we take the last two spots for the Olympic Games. So it’s a very long, hard, expensive process.

“We’re only two spots away so it’s really a very huge realistic dream and we’re just so thankful to the local support and the support internationally to getting these girls to the Olympics.

With ten tournaments to go between now and that cut-off date – that’s only less than three months away – Masauvakalo said the girls have an extraordinary workload.

“It’s a very extraordinary workload and it’s a very expensive workload. We’re still struggling financially to get to all the events. We’re still having fundraisers here locally in Vanuatu but now with the announcement of our major sponsor – Samsung International – that has helped us enormously to be able to afford to attend these events.

“It’s covering probably about quarter of the amount needed so we’re still short so we still have to find some funding.

She said the documentary to be released at the Tribeca Film Festival will give great exposure and acknowledgement of what the duo have achieved to date.

“We’re very excited that our story could be told to the world and can inspire others from other developing countries or other people that are in the same situations as us, where they don’t have the resources, they don’t have the support that other developing countries have from their governments.

“We struggle ourselves so we want to tell our story and we want to get others – especially women – that if they have a dream that they can achieve it and through all the struggles that we’ve been through we hope that we can inspire more.”

- Dateline Pacific