In the dynamic world of sports, Nancy Patterson stands out as a beacon of inspiration, seamlessly transitioning from her roots in Santo to becoming a pivotal figure in the Australian Football League (AFL) community.

Today, at 40 years of age, she reflects on a journey that encompasses perseverance, passion, and a commitment to the development of sports in Vanuatu.

Patterson’s educational journey began in Santo, where she laid the foundation for her academic pursuits, relocating to Lini Memorial, the then Nazareth School in Pentecost.

A testament to her tenacity, she continued her secondary education for four years on the island, facing the challenges of school fee difficulties in her pursuit of knowledge.

Unfortunately, her formal education was interrupted during Year 11, but this setback became the catalyst for her extraordinary sports career.

“Though I was not a very smart kid in school, I really loved sports and that was what I dreamed of having a profession in when I grew up,” reminisces Nancy, highlighting the early roots of her passion.

Embarking on her athletic journey as a basketball player, Patterson represented her school, province, and eventually her country during national games and overseas studies at the University of the South Pacific.

Her teachers recognized her potential for sports, and her versatility shone through as she excelled in not only basketball but also athletics, netball, and football.

In 2009, AFL became a part of Patterson’s life when an expatriate friend and colleague, impressed by her basketball skills, invited her to join the team.

Unbeknownst to her, this marked the beginning of her ground-breaking role as the first female athlete in AFL during that time.

“I was asked if I had a job, and when I said no, I was offered a job at Moorings Hotel. While working, I also attended trainings,” she recalled.

Her dedication to the sport led to a two-year stint at Moorings Hotel from 2011 to 2012.

In 2012, she assumed the responsibilities of Kilip Andrew as a Development Officer, a role that saw her travel to Australia for workshops despite her initial lack of experience in the sport.

“I came back with a training manual and with instructions from the book, I started training children from five to 12 years old.

I learned and got my experiences the hard way, and I am proud of my achievements,” she confessed, emphasizing her resilience in the face of challenges.

Over the years, Patterson honed her coaching skills, evolving into a confident mentor for new recruits.

Her commitment extended beyond local borders as she began collaborating with counterparts from Australia and other Pacific countries.

With a passion for continuous improvement, she aspires to attend overseas training sessions to enhance her coaching and communication skills further.

A few years back, the single mother of one, now lives happily with her partner and college student son.

Her impact on the AFL community reverberates through the updated Facebook news, serving as a source of inspiration for other Pacific nations.

As Patterson believes, at 40, this is not the end of her sporting journey.

Instead, she envisions further development in her career as a Development Officer, ready to embrace opportunities for overseas training to continually elevate her coaching prowess and contribute to the flourishing AFL community in Vanuatu and beyond.