Monash University's Hockey tour of Vanuatu

Ten athletes from Monash University men’s and women’s Inter Varsity hockey team visited Vanuatu from the 19th to the 29th of February this year. The touring party of ten consisted of athletes with high levels of coaching, playing and varsity experience and included Australian Indoor Hockey representative Thomas Sinclair.
The aim of the tour was to provide coaching assistance and support for Hockey Vanuatu, deliver competition for Vanuatu’s national side as well as bring equipment for donation and use by the hockey community.  


On the first Saturday of the tour, Monash participated in a local round robin tournament.  The matches were 30 minutes in duration and were played with five a side. The local teams were from villages across Efate and included sides such as Havannah and Mele. Games were high scoring and included a 7 all draw between Monash and Hanvannah.
The locals coped better with the fives format as well as the 35 degree heat coupled with 95% humidity. Following the completion of the earliest matches, Monash were officially welcomed by the President of the Vanuatu Hocket Association, Relvie Poilapa. In her address to the hockey community, Poilapa officially opened the 2016 season.  Following this speech, Monash team manager, Charles Norbury, presented the 26 bags of equipment donated by the hockey community in Melbourne to Poilapa.
Monday 22nd saw Monash win a high scoring affair against Vanuatu’s national side.  The 60 minute, 7 on 7 game finished with an end score of 9-7. The skill and flair of Vanuatu’s national side was evident.
With cyclone warnings in place across Vanuatu, Tuesday’s scheduled game against Vanuatu was cancelled. Instead, Monash ran a Pikinini clinic at the Wan Smolbag Youth Centre for the underprivileged children that attend the centre each day.
On Wednesday evening, Monash attended the hockey Vanuatu trivia night. This event marked the opening of the 2016 season and raised money for the hockey program. 
On Thursday, Monash coached a Pikinini clinic in Havannah on a grass pitch at the local primary school. The clinic consisted of an eight a side match with local children and Monash students on both sides. As more of the locals filtered in the numbers on each side grew.  Small games broke out on different parts of the grass field in competition to the larger match.
 
The game was conducted on a grass pitch that was not level, littered with gravel and rocks, and had tree roots and other obstacles.  Remarkably the majority of those playing did not wear closed shoes and were either in flip flops or bare foot. The game was simple with the only rule being ‘leg’ which was shouted whenever someone was hit below the knee by the ball. The session went for over an hour and half with more kids and adults arriving as the sun gradually set for another day. For the students this was the high point of the trip.
Over the course of the ten days the team of Monash students successfully competed in five matches and ran two clinics. They also donated over 100 hockey sticks, 80 sports bras, 8 dozen balls, and numerous uniforms. Aside from the interruptions caused by the cyclone threat, the program went exceptionally well and the group was gratified by the hospitality of the Nevan people. This Vanuatu trip is an example of some of the great opportunities that Monash University provides for its students to become world citizens.

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