CWG 2018

Beach volleyball, nappy changes, baby feeds and CWG bronze for Vanuatu mum Miller Pata

Pata along with team-mate Linline Matauatu won Vanuatu’s first-ever Commonwealth Games medal in beach volleyball, defeating Cyprus.

It’s not easy making history at the Commonwealth Games – and it doesn’t get any less complicated if you’re looking after a baby at the same time, as Vanuatu beach volleyball player Miller Pata has found.

While most athletes have ice baths and massages after games, it’s more likely to be nappy changes and baby feeds for Pata, who nevertheless won bronze with her team-mate Linline Matauatu on Thursday.

Pata hoisted seven-month-old Tommy in the air and placed her medal around his neck after the win over Cyprus which handed Vanuatu, a remote Pacific archipelago, its first ever Commonwealth Games medal.

The team-mates haven’t had it easy: they have had to organise their own accommodation, babysitting, meals and physiotherapy, after being told Pata couldn’t stay with her baby at the athletes’ village.

It remains an unusual situation in elite sport, but it could become more common as an increasing number of women return to competition after childbirth, including tennis world number one Serena Williams.

Pata was back in training just two months after having Tommy, and she said one of the biggest challenges was eating properly to maintain her energy.

“(My energy levels) were different but I managed my food and everything, so I could get back on to my normal routine,” the 29-year-old told AFP.

Pata isn’t the only new mum at the Commonwealth Games: two-time Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams had her first baby in October, and Australian race-walker Claire Tallent has an 11-month-old son.

Vanuatu coach Shanon Zunker said Pata had been “short-changed” by being refused permission to stay in the village, which has physiotherapy and massage services and all dietary needs catered for.

“Given the stage that they are on, I think it would be nice if they had access to all those things,” Zunker said.


“When Tommy has (visited) the village grounds, (athletes) are pretty excited to meet him... so I think I few extra smiles around the place would not have gone astray,” he added.

The next generation

Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive David Grevemberg said children were allowed to visit the village and that there were facilities for baby-feeding.

“It’s certainly something we’ll continue to look at as far as making sure we have the right policies, but right now I think we have a fairly robust approach,” he told AFP.

“We haven’t had any complaints and we’ve made provisions to allow the baby access to allow the mother to engage with the child on our day-pass system.”

Vanuatu is hardly known for its sporting prowess, but Pata and Matauatu have been rising up the beach volleyball ranks for some time.

They announced themselves as a credible force in 2015, with a win over world number one Brazil at a world tour event in the United States, and only narrowly failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

Both athletes also have daughters under 10 and their families share the caring duties as they juggle the demands of travel and training.

Sociologist Adele Pavlidis from Griffith University said motherhood in sport was becoming more and more prevalent.

“The visibility of women that have recently had children in sport has been quite low, and that is changing,” she told AFP.

“They are saying ‘just because a woman can give birth it doesn’t mean she is any more fragile or weak than anyone else.”

For the Vanuatu pair, family and sport are their lives.

“(Our daughters) get excited (watching us play), and they look forward to replacing us,” Matauatu laughed.

“The next generation!” said Pata.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.