Source : Vanuatu Surfing Association
Vanuatu, arrived home last Wednesday to a packed airport of supporters. Vanuatu is a sports mad country but aside from the women’s beach volleyball team (ranked no 9 in the world), they haven’t had too much to celebrate of recent time and the number of supporters from the surfing and non surfing community to welcome home the team was in excess of 250 people. Included in the welcoming party was the Minisiter of Sports MP Don Ken and the Chief of Pango Village Rolan Kaluatman as well as the local media all wanting to get footage and interviews with the team.
A Convoy from the airport, through town and onto Pango village where all the Vanuatu surf team live, consisted of over 25 buses and trucks blaring their horns and celebrating the win. Once in Pango, Chief Roland Kaluatman spoke to the crowd about how proud he is of the young people of Pango who work so hard at surfing and at school so that they can represent Vanuatu. Vanuatu Surfing Assoc. president, team coach and over 35 Vanuatu surfer Ben Johnson also addressed the crowd thanking them for their support and the sponsors for their ongoing assistance in getting the team over to Samoa at a cost of over USD $12,000. “To have seen the progression of these kids from just a few years back, from having little to no equipment, no knowledge of competitive surfing but such a deep appreciation and respect for the ocean to now where they can genuinely be considered the powerhouse nation for surfing in this region after winning the Mel Cup for 3 years straight is just an incredible achievement. And one for which every surfer, mama, papa and pikinini in Pango, and Vanuatu, should be very proud.” Said Ben.
Finally Vanuatu Captain and Melanesian Long Board Champion John Stephens introduced every member of the team to the crowd and once they were all on stage the team performed the Vanuatu Surfing haka – “Lei Malo”. The partying kicked on through the night and the buzz is still continuing this week with the team members and managers do an array of local and overseas media commitments.
The Vanuatu Surfing Association would like to thank all participating countries in this year’s Mel Cup and congratulate Keith Martin and the Samoan Surfriders Assoc. for putting on such an epic event.