#IWD Stories: Sport helps us overcome life’s barriers
In the second story of our International Women’s Day series, Team Up meets Nancy Patterson from the Plei Footy Blo Jenis program in Vanuatu.
Nancy Patterson is the program manager with the AFL in Vanuatu, supporting the delivery of the Team Up-supported Plei Footy Blo Jenis program.
Plei Footy Blo Jenis uses the sport of Australian rules football to delivery weekly programs and activities throughout communities in Vanuatu. The program supports the delivery of safe, inclusive accessible sport, while working to improve attitudes and behaviours towards women and girls and increase awareness of gender-based violence.
“My role involves organising the program, conducting activities and getting more participants involved,” she explains.
“If there was one word that I could pick to describe my role as a leader, it would be ‘excitement’.
“As a former national team basketball player, I learned the value of hard work and commitment. The opportunities the Plei Footy Blo Jenis program has provided have helped me to develop as a leader and motivated me to continue to do my job for the good of women in my country.
“One of my favourite roles, is finding and convincing women and mothers over the age of 25 to swap their island dresses for shorts and jumpers and join our women’s program.
“Life is full of barriers and sport can help us overcome those barriers. I have faced barriers in my life and football has helped to encourage me. It has shown me that even in the darkest corners, there is another side to life, which is full of excitement and opportunities.
“I enjoy being part of a group of people, learning and having fun. Seeing people involved and participating in our programs with huge smiles on their faces is one of the best parts of my role.”