Ranked 17th in the Olympic ranking for beach volleyball, Linline Matauatu and Miller Pata are currently attempting to qualify for the Rio Olympics despite limited funding and resources. They are only two spots away from qualifying. Their extraordinary journey has been documented in the film, A Fighting Chance, and shows the many challenges that Linline and Miller have to overcome to realize their dream. And yet these girls are still everyday women who deal with the same issues as every other working mum.
I am from Banks but I grew up in Mele. I still live there with my Mum and daughter. I’ve been playing beach volleyball since 2007. I use to play indoor volleyball but back then I didn’t consider myself talented, it was just for fun. It was only after I was selected to play in a beach volleyball tournament in Australia that I thought that maybe I was good at this. It has taken me to many places – Australia, New Zealand, USA, England, Cook Islands, China, Korea, Thailand, Italy and many more. Miller and I even beat the number one team in the world, Brazil, last year in America.
We train two or three times a week. In the morning, we go to the gym for an hour, then we bike down to the court for another hour. Our goal is to make it to the Olympics so it means we have to train even harder and watch what we eat. We are very close to getting in and we are trying our best to make more points. We will be in China to do another tournament and based on those results, we will find out if we get into the Olympics.
It makes me very happy that beach volleyball gets promoted and all the people in Vanuatu support us. Before it was mostly soccer that people were interested in. When we play here, we have to follow the culture, so we wear shorts when we are training. But when we are overseas, we wear a bikini. If you have supportive male family members, it’s not a problem, but some men don’t appreciate it. My family is fine with it because they know I am representing Vanuatu when I play beach volleyball.
If I could tell one thing to any girl who wants to be a successful athlete, my advice is to listen to your coach. Do what they say, because they know what they are talking about. I would encourage you to not to drink or smoke. Make sure you eat the right food and give it your best when you are training.
So far, the biggest challenge I’ve had to face is making sure that my daughter is ok. It’s hard for me to balance training, playing and looking after her. When I’m away, I have to make sure that there is money to take of her. In the beginning, it was hard because I really missed my baby. But now we are both used to it. For all the women we hemi gat pikinini, yu no mas tink se yu mas stap lo haos. Yu gat opportunity yet. You can do it.