Team Vanuatu welcomes athletes with disabilities for the first time
Team Vanuatu leaves today for Port Moresby to participate in the 2015 Pacific Games. These, the fifteenth Pacific Games, will mark the first time that athletes with a disability are participating as part of Team Vanuatu for the Pacific Games.
Two athletes with disabilities will be competing – Mary Romel, and Rodney Ben, and will compete in standing table tennis. Coach Pareina Matariki will also be part of the team.
Vanuatu Table Tennis Sport Development Officer, Anolyn Lulu, said that the athletes were looking to perform well at the Games.
“Cyclone Pam really affected our ability to send these athletes to international competitions earlier this year”, she said. “We’re hoping that a solid performance at these Games will form part of our bid to send table tennis athletes to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games”.
The inclusion of Mary and Rodney in Team Vanuatu is due to the hard work of many people and organisations. This includes the weekly table tennis sports program at Wan Smol Bag, the administrative and financial support of the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee, development funding from the Smash Down barriers Program run by Table Tennis Australia, assistance from the Vanuatu Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (VASANOC), as well as the hard work and dedication of the athletes and their coach.
Vanuatu Paralympic Committee Secretary-General, Andrew Bynon, noted that the inclusion of athletes with disabilities in Team Vanuatu is indicative of changing social attitudes towards people with disabilities in the country.
“It’s really great to see Vanuatu embrace athletes with disabilities. We hope that these Pacific Games are merely the beginning, and that more and more athletes with disabilities, in more and more sports, are welcomed into Team Vanuatu in future”.
The Vanuatu Paralympic Committee wishes Mary and Rodney well at the 2015 Pacific Games and in their campaign for inclusion in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.