Linline Matauatu, Miller Pata and Loti Joe were at the National Bank of Vanuatu Wednesday to accept a cheque for VT 700,000 to help kickstart their drive for a first-ever Commonwealth medal.

The Games, which will be hosted by the Gold Coast, Australia in April of 2018, provide our best chance ever to reach the podium.

To hear team manager Debbioe Masaufakalo tell it, it’s a sure thing. “Beach Volleyball has just been accepted as a sport in the Commonwealth Games. And Vanuatu has never won a medal.

So the Gold Coast Games will be Vanuatu’s first ever Commonwealth Medal.”

Bank representative Karen Mahina was on hand to present the cheque.

It was a chance, she said, to “expose the assistance NBV continues to support the local community around the country.

Its commitment to the grassroots through development of different sporting disciplines.”

National Bank of Vanuatu operates the largest branch and agency network. Its shareholders are the Government of Vanuatu, the VNPF and the IFC (the commercial arm of the World Bank).

Matauatu and Pata were stoic when reflecting on the past year, which led them within two rallies of an appearance at the Rio Olympics.

They are preparing for a number of international tournaments, and although their schedule won’t be quite as frenetic next year, they plan to put some major miles in as they fight to improve their standing in the world rankings.

Loti Joe smiled shyly and agreed that the newer team members had the bar set very high for them, but vowed to perform with the same grit and determination shown by Pata, Matauato as well as by veterans Henriette Iatika and Joyce Joshua.