IT is a new year and there are new goals on the horizon for Vanuatu Beach Volleyball.

Following on from the Women’s team success at the Van2017 Pacific Mini Games last month, the reigning Oceania champions will be looking, not only to continue this good form, but build on it with a strong push to the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April.

As part of this preparation, the team will be heading to Australia to participate in the Queensland Open, which is scheduled for the Australia Day weekend in late January, and will then continue south to participate in the FIVB World Tour event in Shepparton in country Victoria from February 3-5.

The major event of 2018 for the senior team is no doubt GC2018, but from the development perspective, the 2018 Youth Olympics, which will be hosted in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October, is the main feature for the young stars coming through the system in Vanuatu.

To this end, Vanuatu Beach Volleyball is looking to host the Oceania Qualifying event for the 2018 YOG in late March, utilising the new facilities at the Korman Sports Complex in Port Vila.

The Youth Women have been granted a wildcard entry to Buenos Aires while the Youth Men will need to qualify.

Importantly, the March tournament will also double as the qualifier for the U19 World Championships to be held at the end of June in China and is a key focus for Van Beach Volleyball in the development and preparation of the young team ahead of October.

There may however be a stumbling block as hosting such an event will need substantial financial backing.

What is not realised by most is that Vanuatu Beach Volleyball has no current major sponsor and therefore will struggle financially to cater for these big events, both home and abroad, despite being one of the most prominently profiled federations in the Vanuatu sporting landscape.

While it is not the only National Federation battling with financial constraints, it is one of the most internationally active and successful of Vanuatu’s sporting teams.

Appreciative of the discounted airfares it receives through sponsorship with Air Vanuatu and the supply of uniforms through Vanuatu Spirit and Project, it is the tangible financial support which is lacking.

Vanuatu Beach Volleyball President Debbie Masauvakalo believes major financial support will come but admits the task will be that much harder without it.

“We have had major sponsors in the past like National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) and the Vanuatu Agricultural Development Bank (VADB), but we do not at present have any sponsorship secured,” she said.

While support is forthcoming from VASANOC, in the modern era of sport, direct sponsorship is an essential ingredient to achieving success.

So the VVF is hoping to secure a strong, long-term financial sponsor in the near future to enable a smoother run into the Commonwealth Games, the Youth Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Qualifiers, with the 2019 Pacific Games also looming.

The sponsorship situation will not dampen the dedication and enthusiasm of the squad in endeavouring to achieve its objectives, but would alleviate some of the strain which has become as much a part of the story as the successes which this Beach Volleyball unit has achieved over the past decade.