Port Vila, Vanuatu, April 2, 2020 – Vanuatu Beach Volleyball will now have to wait until July 2021 to try and achieve its Olympic dream following the IOC announcement last week to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

In the light of the growing concerns over the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), the International Olympic Committee made the much anticipated and unprecedented decision not to hold the Games as scheduled in four months’ time but to postpone them until July 2021.

For the Vanuatu Women’s Beach Volleyball team, the successful securing of a spot at the final Olympic qualifying tournament, scheduled for June, by winning the AVC Oceania Zonal title in New Zealand in March, was the last tournament in which they had played. All subsequent FIVB and AVC events were cancelled shortly after that event as the impact of the Covid-19 contagion began to be felt worldwide.

For many of the world’s athletes, this IOC announcement has come as a relief as training preparations and qualifications processes for many sports have been thrown into chaos.

For Vanuatu Volleyball, months of planned tournaments in preparation for the Olympic push have been wiped from the board.
Despite this new challenge, national coach Michel Bargmann is determined not to allow these major disruptions curtail his squad’s road to Tokyo, even if that road is now a little longer.

Team training, both on the home courts and in the VVF gym, has continued over recent weeks. With the implementation of the Vanuatu Government’s State of Emergency however, he has had to think outside the box and has this week had the athletes training while in isolation. With everyone restricted to their homes and communities, the coach has designed an online training regimen in which all squad members are participating daily.

Bargmann, who has coached the team for the past 18 months, is supported by the FIVB in his coaching role and now the VVF has approached the international governing body for consideration of an extension to his funded tenure in the Pacific, to accommodate the IOC delay, given the current extraordinary situation for the sport.

The success achieved in the weeks prior to the current shutdown underlined Bargmann’s value to the VVF elite program and the progress being made from Youth Development players like Bella Lawac through to experienced champions like Miller Pata.
Fitness, coaching, sports psychology and team bonding are all elements Bargmann has worked into the program and the opportunity to build on some of these in this current situation is being taken.

An online sports psychology course from Volleyball Mindset focused on mental training, will take place next week through an online delivery format with Jake Hunter, the General Manager of Winning Mindset.

The course is promoted as being a “specific mindset system adapted by volleyball players for volleyball players” and this one has been designed specifically for Vanuatu Beach Volleyball after consultation with Bargmann, former Strength and Conditioning coach Jason Quelch and VVF President Debbie Masauvakalo. A workbook has been produced which the whole squad will work through together in online sessions.

The expectation is the athletes will be able to return to a normal, fuller training program as soon as the SoE has finished, but with the global health crisis ongoing, the whole team will remain focused but adaptable to whatever challenge next arises.

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