For the first time this year, the Vanuatu Rugby League (VRL) will be sending a national women’s rugby team to the Pacific Games in Solomon Islands.
Before departure on Tuesday next week, the players have received their new sports jerseys and same time had the opportunity to hear the team captains announced by President Antonio Korikalo, yesterday.
At Chantilly’s on the Bay hotel, Winona Kalpukai and Jaimeen Kenni were selected and the crowd cheered for the girls who will be leading the team of 16 girls.
Dahlia Sese, Diana Boar, Emmanuella Nguyen, Ericka Rono, Grace Bebe, Jaimeen Kenni, Joana Kaluatman , Lavinia Qwari , Louise Obed, Majory Thompson, Melta Cyrus, So’oletaua Motuliki, Stephanie Kalfen, Teau Nawalu, Winona Kalpukai and Yvanka Kalfen will be accompanied by Coach David Nicolosi who has a lot of confidence in his girls.
“A lot of this girls it’s a big step for them. They never played in a tournament like this, against other countries, especially against other countries that have been playing rugby league for a lot longer than lot of these girls.
“The progression we have seen the last 4-5 months has been really pleasurable. We will definitely go up there and be competitive and we will win a couple of games for sure,” he said.
He urged the girls to be to go out there and have fun but most importantly represent the country, their friends but most importantly their family as well.
“A lot of them have been given support by their families so we will do the same as well from outside and it will be a once in a lifetime thing so am hoping for them to just be themselves and to have fun,” he said.
The official draws have not yet been announced but there will be competitions against five other countries including Vanuatu. Host country will be an opponent including, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and the Cook Islands.
VRL President Korikalo said this has been an achievement because the team has come a very long way beginning from scratch to get to this stage.
“Today it is an honor and privilege to stand before you as the president of VRL and am filled with pride as we gather together to mark a historical special occasion. The presentation of brand-new jerseys to our first ever Women’s National Team.
“Today we celebrate not just the celebration of jerseys but we celebrate the dedication, the passion, the unwavering commitment that each if you athletes bring to the field. These jerseys represent not just the uniform but a symbol of unity strength and the collective spirit that defines our team,” he said.
Korikalo continued on to say that as they are being handed the sports clothes, he asked them to recognize the countless hours of hard work, sacrifice and resilience that the team embodies. He said the girls are not just athletes but they are ambassadors of sports and role models for aspiring players and a source of inspiration to all.
Newly appointed Co – Captains Winona and Jaimeen, on their part delivered a speech that got the whole of Chantilly’s in a moment full of emotion.
Thanking all the coaches, and big supporters of the rugby league community they promised to leave for the Pacific games only to make Vanuatu proud and to make them proud.
“We gonna do our best,” the girls assured on behalf of the whole team.
David Lolo who is Assistant Coach and same time Chief Executive Officer for VASANOC thanked the parents and families of the girls stating that he knows what its like to be in their shoes as he had been a player himself.
“Stand tall and be proud for when you wear these jerseys you represent Vanuatu and all its citizens across the world,” he said.
VRL also thanked all supporters and sponsors who have generously helped the group for this very important moment, the 17th edition of the Pacific Games.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST