P&O Cruises Australia and its guests give Vanuatu Women’s Beach Volleyball team timely support to help achieve Tokyo Olympic dream

Thursday, June 3, 2021

P&O Cruises Australia and its passenger funded P&O Pacific Partnership are providing timely additional support to the Vanuatu Women’s Beach Volleyball team as it embarks on its final competition to win selection for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Starved of international competition due to covid related travel restrictions, the Vanuatu combinations of Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko and Loti Joe and Majabelle Lawac need to travel to Thailand to compete in the Continental Cup Final from June 25-28.

P&O Cruises and its passengers through their donations to the P&O Pacific Partnership are assisting the Vanuatu team with the cost of international air travel and accommodation.

“International travel is no longer routine in a world affected by the pandemic and the Vanuatu team has faced every obstacle imaginable to get to the competition in Thailand, which will decide whether they make it to Tokyo in just a matter of weeks,” said P&O Cruises Australia President Sture Myrmell.

“If courage, resilience and determination were the deciding competition factors, the team and their supporters would already have earned gold.

“The impact of the pandemic has starved them of high level international competition vital for their pre-Olympics preparation but these young champions see it as just another obstacle to confront and overcome.

“It is easy to see why the team is an inspiration to the people of Vanuatu in particular for women and girls who can see from their example that anything and everything is possible.”

The P&O Pacific Partnership has previously assisted the Vanuatu Women’s Beach Volleyball team with the costs involved in pursuing international competition including its historic bronze medal success at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.

It also helped fund the establishment of a purpose-built gymnasium and training facility that has helped keep the team match fit for its Tokyo campaign despite the lack of international competition opportunities.

The team first won the hearts of Vanuatu becoming role models for women and girls in narrowly missing out on selection for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 before their triumph in becoming the first Vanuatu athletes to win a Commonwealth Games team medal.

Others are also taking notice of the Vanuatu team’s remarkable effort to gain selection for the Tokyo Olympics and their importance as role models to women and girls at home.

The Olympic movement's own media arm recently profiled the team and its classic pursuit of the golden attributes of competitive sport. It reported:

‘There are many stories at the Olympic Games that lay bare tales of sacrifice of athletes who put their lives into achieving their dreams in their quest to become sporting legends. This is one of those stories, but it is also so much more. It’s a story of determination and drive, and one that ultimately changed the status quo and inspired a nation.’

Mr Myrmell said the cruise line’s passengers knew that in supporting the Vanuatu team “they are also supporting the aspirations of a nation that is so special to our cruising community.”