BY ROMULUS HUTA
In Port Vila, Vanuatu
THE 2018 Oceania Hockey Series Round One kicked off in Port Vila, Vanuatu Tuesday evening.
The competition is being attended by four countries and is being held at the Wan Smol Bag Hockey Center at Port Vila.
Participating countries include hosts Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga.
Speaking during the opening ceremony, President of Vanuatu Hockey Federation, Jack Manuel Chilia said he’s overwhelmed with the presence of the three Oceania countries who managed to turn up for the event.
“We are happy to host the event in Port Vila and we’re very pleased that we are going to play against our sisters and brothers from Fiji, Solomon Islands and Tonga.
“We have worked so hard to make this happen,” he said.
The opening ceremony on began with a parade led by Team Fiji, followed by Solomon Islands, Tonga and then the hosts.
Kevin Peebles of Oceania Hockey Federation said the World Hockey Series qualifier is an important step toward the qualifiers for the Olympic Games.
“May the best teams win. The winning team is important for Oceania where they will carry on our hopes forward into the next stage.”
The tournament was declared open by the Vanuatu Association of Sports National Olympic Committee (VASANOC) Henry Tavoa.
Delivering his official remarks, Tavoa urged all teams to play to their best with the good spirit of Hockey.
“I would like to thank the Vanuatu Hockey Federation (VHF), the Vanuatu government and sponsors Telekom Vanuatu Limited and Bank of South Pacific (BSP).
“I would like to say a few words, to say that the teams that qualify from this competition will go on to represent all of us.
“So whatever happens at this competition, whether one team loses or one team wins, we support the teams or the team that go on to the next level of the competition.
“So at the players or look at the friend sitting next to you from other countries and say all the best to them.
“I’m not only representing VASANOC but also the sports commission which is the body that’s behind the venues and the facilities and also look after the sports policy in Vanuatu. In that, I’m proud that we can host another hockey competition. Also big thank you to the wan smol bag for the use of the excellent facility that we have here.
“Onbehalf of the youths of Vanuatu, on the behalf of sports in Vanuatu and on behalf of hockey in Vanuatu, and on behalf of all the sports that are trying to host something like this, and on behalf of all of us, may I now declare this competition officially open,” Tavoa stressed.
Meanwhile, the competition kicked off on Wednesday morning with the Vanuatu men’s national team taking on the Vanuatu under-18 side, followed by the Solomon Islands men’s team going against Tonga.