2016-06-09 16:12:00 CEST
Meet the two heroes from the beach volleyball’s smallest nation
We were busy getting the best social media content at Court 3 this morning when we overheard the question “What does V-A-N mean?”
Van? Van What? Van Morrison? Van Halen?
No, the spectator’s eyes were glued to the scoreboard on Court 3. The ‘VAN’ stood for Vanuatu.
If you’ve never heard of Vanuatu, it’s a small island nation in the south Pacific Ocean.
Its population is just 250,000 yet here at smart Major Hamburg there are two happy, young girls trying to make a name of themselves and for their country.
Linline Matatuatu and Miller Pata are proud of where they come from and are now setting their sights on winning a Major Series tournament for the first time.
But if you think this an underdog story – think again! This super smiley island superstars pair finished in fourth place in the recent open in Cincinnati last month, and this week they have given teams from Germany and Brazil a real run for their money. The combined populations of those powerhouse nations is a whopping 280 million.
“Vanuatu do not have many teams playing beach volleyball but the people in Vanuatu are proud of us because we help promote our country,” says Miller.
“Many people don’t know where Vanuatu is, but our aim is to win a Major tournament because we know the people in Vanuatu would be happy seeing us doing well.”
A Pool Play win over highly-rated Brazilian duo Duda/Elize Maia certainly put a smile on their faces as it guaranteed Linline and Miller a place in Friday’s knockout stages.
“I’m not scared facing these teams,” says Miller. “I know in my heart that I have to get up and play strong and play hard to win.
“We get used to it because Vanuatu is a small island and we don’t have many supporters. We can only control what we do: be strong and play with heart.”
Linline smiles and says: “The players don’t always know where Vanuatu is so we tell them it’s a small island in the South Pacific and after we play them – then they definitely know!”
And if you still don’t know, check them out on our special Google Map…
We’re off to learn the Vanuatu anthem Yumi, Yumi, Yumi! See you in the next round girls!