Tokelau to Bendigo

TOKELAU, a small island north of Samoa, has a population of about 1400 people.

A small contingent from the beach island has made their way to Bendigo for the ITTF Oceania Cup.

It took nearly 50 hours for the team to arrive in the city but for the Tokelau team manager Susan Perez it was worth the wait.

Perez said their journey to the prestigious tournament began with a 36-hour boat ride from Tokelau to Samoa, followed by two flights and a two-hour drive from Melbourne to Bendigo.

“We don’t have an airport so this is how we have to travel,” she said.

It is the first time the country has taken part in the tournament with their female and male champions Lifia Maiava and Livingston Kalolo competing.

“This tournament is really good for the development of table tennis in Tokelau,” Perez said.

“Our table tennis journey began in 2009.

“It has been five years in the making to be here.”

Perez said it was exciting to finally be in Bendigo.

“We just added table tennis last year to our national games,” she said.

“We have our champions now and the national progression for us is to come to these games.”

Perez said table tennis was one of the most popular sports in the country.

“Every house has a table,” she said.

“Everyone has played the sport for many, many years.”

 Perez said she was blown away with the facilities in Bendigo.

“For our national games last year our stadium was two tables so to walk in and to see the warm-up area have six tables it is like 'wow',” she said.

“Then seeing the main stadium it was a double wow.  

“It is a thousand times magnified.

It is like the Olympic Games for us. - Susan Perez

“It is like the Olympic Games for us.”

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