2019 marked the 8th year Avalon Soccer Club has been represented by the Women’s U16s team in Vanuatu. The tour was established in 2012 as part of a club initiative to help promote women in soccer on both sides of the Pacific, and to foster an ongoing relationship between Avalon players and the soccer loving girls in Vanuatu. We spent 10 days full of friendly football games and local community support, which included painting classrooms, donating school supplies and handing out women’s hygiene packs.

This year I was lucky enough to be a part of the annual trip, along with 20 of my teammates and their family members. We started fundraising as a team in September of 2018 and after 9 months, $5,000 was raised to support villages and schools with a variety of donations such as school supplies, medical supplies, clothing and sporting gear.

We spent our first day at Manua College playing multiple friendly games of soccer, as well as being taken on school tours by the kids and learning new games.

We visited Epule Village and helped decorate the local kindergarten. After all the work was done we played duck duck goose with all of the kids, kicked a ball around and played a friendly soccer games against the women of the village.

In Maturissu Village we painted, decorated and repaired the classrooms. The day was filled with laughs, soccer and volleyball. It was definitely one of the best days I had there. We taught the kids some clapping games and they taught us some french. After every day spent with the locals we all came back so happy with the connections made.

I think I can speak on behalf of all the girls on the trip that the experience was life changing. Sport was a common language that helped us connect with the children in the villages. We were kindly welcomed into three schools and were embraced by the locals as soon as we started kicking a ball around. The most rewarding experience was the connections we made with the people we met.

The kids in the villages definitely gave us a run for our money but when it came to the final game against the Vanuatu National W16s team, they kicked our butts, in the nicest way possible. Both teams were all smiles on the field and it was a great game. Unfortunately we did lose 3-1 but we put up a good fight. It was great to see that people from the local town came to watch as well as friends we had made along the way. After the game we were all invited to join the Australian High Commissioner of Vanuatu, Jenny Da Rin, for afternoon tea and we got to officially meet the girls from the team. They were all so sweet and it was such an amazing day.

Overall the trip was such an incredible life experience for all of us. Not only were our days full of community service and friendly soccer games, but we met so many people along the way and made so many great connections within our tour group. It was a really great way to bring all of us girls together. We all came home as close friends and an even closer team.

Olivia Casey

W16 Avalon Soccer Club 2019