Volleyball Australia (VA) is excited to announce that Vanuatu Volleyball Federation (VVF) on March 19 won the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Women and Sport Award for Oceania, in recognition for a program that we deliver in partnership.

The award was for VVF’s Volley4Change program, which was established in 2013 through a partnership between VVF and VA, supported by the Australian Government through the Pacific Sports Partnerships.

Volley4Change focuses on supporting grassroots beach volleyball in Vanuatu while contributing to community development outcomes. The program’s vision is that women, girls and people with disabilities will benefit from improved health and wellbeing through nutrition, education, increased physical activity, and leadership and inclusion in sports.

VVF President Debbie Masauvakalo said “The IOC Women and Sports Award is not about what Vanuatu Volleyball has achieved, but what we have done to effect change in gender equity. The Volley4Change program has educated, empowered and transformed many women’s lives in Vanuatu for the better and we thank the Australian Government for funding Volley4Change through the Pacific Sports Partnership Program, in partnership with Volleyball Australia.”

In making the award to VVF, the IOC said: “The Volley4Change program shines a light on social issues faced by women today and addresses these issues by engaging people of all genders and abilities to increase physical activity. It also looks at mental, spiritual and emotional aspects of health. VVF’s contribution to the acceptance of women as athletes has created role models for all.”

Each year, the IOC Women and Sport Awards are given to women, men or organisations who have made remarkable contributions to the development, encouragement and reinforcement of women and girls’ participation in sport

Volleyball Australia would like to acknowledge the Australian Government for its support and funding of the Volley4Change program over the past six years. This funding, via Pacific Sports Partnerships, has enabled multiple sport for development programs to be created and delivered across Oceania, enabling volleyball to further its reach in offering opportunities for individuals of all abilities, and in diverse locations, to engage in physical activity.

Volley4Change is our longest running program, with significant successes along the way. The award recognises the hard work of all involved, especially VVF staff, and highlights a focus not only on female participation, but also on volleyball participation and opportunities across the globe.

This is the third international award handed to volleyball sport for development programs funded by the Australian Government over the past four years.

In 2015, Fiji Volleyball Federation (FVF) won ‘Federation of the Year’ at the Beyond Sports Awards in London, beating out other international federations including the International Tennis Federation, National Hockey League (NHL, USA) and National Rugby League (NRL, Australia). The award recognised the work FVF carried out in the communities of Rewa providing safe and accessible opportunities to participate in sport and/or physical activity.

In 2017, the Colorful Girls’ Volleyball Circles program in Myanmar won the Beyond Sport: Sport for Equality Award. Delivered by Myanmar-based NGO Girl Determined and Netherlands-based NGO Women Wins through a partnership with VA, the program trained over 40 coaches, and reached more than 1000 athletes with the help of five Australian coaches. Through volleyball, the participating girls and women, many of whom were from conflict-affected communities, received invaluable skills and lessons in leadership and self-advocacy in a fun and safe environment.

In addition to VVF’s award, Volleyball Australia would like to acknowledge and congratulate all the 2019 IOC Women and Sport Awards winners, particularly the Africa regional winner, Ms Djatougbe “Nathalie” Noameshie, vice president of the Togo Volleyball Federation.

This ongoing recognition for global volleyball sport for development programs shines a light on the contribution our sport is making to community development outcomes internationally. VA is looking forward to continuing the work we are doing with all of our key partners in Oceania through Pacific Sports Partnerships and in future phases of the program.