In the seventh minute of the hockey match between Mexico and Vanuatu, the stadium in Buenos Aires bursts at the seams. Screams, applause and admiration can be heard, seen and felt. Lovis Iawila has made the first hockey goal of the tournament for Vanuatu. The girls' team from the same country in the stands cheers so loudly that everyone turns their heads and greets them with a smile.
Vanuatu, an island group behind the Coral Sea 2000 kilometers east of Australia, is with two teams at the hockey tournament. Not the traditional hockey form, but a 5 against 5 variant is played at the Youth Olympic Games. Due to the low boarding, it resembles indoor hockey and it’s a fast and spectacular kind of hockey. Add the inexperienced, happy, uncomfortable, nimble and tropical Vanuatuans and you have a wonderful afternoon. Coach Nasse Maltungtung is proud of his boys. “Facilities like this, this experience, this is great. We don't know this at all on Vanuatu. ”
The boys have only been playing together for a year and have actually only known what hockey is about for a year now. Vanuatu started the sport in 2006, but played their first tournament in 2012, in which for example the Solomon Islands and the Fiji Islands took part. “That was a big step for us,” says the delicgted coach Maltungtung, who plays in the national team himself with the seniors. “Compared to the Netherlands or Australia, we are of course a team with no experience or special skills. We played against Australia in qualifying. Too good, but we mainly play to learn. ”
Learning also has to be done. The bigger sports in the country are soccer and basketball. Hockey is not in anyone's fiber. It also looks a bit helpless at times, but the enthusiasm is no less. And that helps Vanuatu with the first goals. After a 14-0 defeat against Malaysia and an 18-0 battle against Argentina, it will be 8-3 against Mexico. “Great that we were able to score! Now we still hope that we can win once and otherwise we will do that in four years', said the coach.