Growing up in Vanuatu’s Erakor Village provided an idyllic backdrop for Brian Kaltack’s childhood.

Family, friends, school, the sea and football surrounded him and each of them set the foundations for the journey he has found himself on since he was chosen as part of the first intake of the Vanuatu Football Federation (VFF) Academy Programme.

Although the 25-year-old has been able to seize the opportunities that have come his way, he said it has not been an easy, or typical, ride.

“Growing up in Vanuatu, where I came from, is not easy,” he stated.

“Living in the islands, and not just Vanuatu but Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, it’s different because most people they come from different places, different villages and each has their own lifestyles.

“To go far you have to be strong and learn how to cope on your own, while having good people that let you follow your dreams, let you do what your heart desires.”

Kaltack said discovering his own inner-strength has been hard, but he’s persevered in pursuit of his dream.

“Even for myself, it has been really hard at times but I manage with my family. I thank my mum, my dad, they looked after me well.

“They’ve taught me where I should be, where I shouldn’t be and how I can progress in the future.”

Kaltack said one of the biggest stumbling blocks he has seen is finance.

“I think that finance is one of the hardest things for players in the islands. But I believe if the families are supporting you with what you want, and what you want to achieve in the future then you will be successful.”

Kaltack began to get serious about a career in football when he was chosen to take part in the VFF academy pilot project and credits the guidance of his coaches at the time for giving him the foundations he needed.

“I was selected for the first intake in the Academy in Vanuatu where all these legendary coaches – Coach Etienne (Mermer), coach Moise (Poida) and coach Richard (Iwai) – they brought me in and that’s where I my football started.

“From there I started scouting and ended up in New Zealand and it’s where I started experiencing life in football until now.”

While Kaltack’s first stop was New Zealand, his career has seen him playing in Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and now Fiji.

“We were in the academy for three years and with the players I was there with only some of them are still playing football,” he said.

“It highlights for me that you have to think big and to think big you have to stay strong, follow your heart and establish what you want to be in the future.

“I think about the players I came through the academy with and they were all good players, but it’s really just me here who has kept going.”

Kaltack said it’s all about identifying opportunities and making sure you pursue them if you want the football journey to continue.

“Opportunity comes just once and there’s only a few who grab it and keep going.”

Despite being a key player in every team he plays for, Kaltack believes his big break is still to come.

“I think I just need someone to give me one opportunity, one chance,” Kaltack said.

“I’m focused, I’m disciplined and when that opportunity comes along I will take it with both hands.”

Retaining his desire and drive is sometimes hard but Kaltack said he’s taught himself to be his biggest supporter.

“I believe in myself. In life we all have ups and downs, we all go off the path sometimes. But at the back of your mind, especially in football, you know you have to be responsible for bringing yourself up because no-one’s going to do it for you.

“It takes hard work. Whenever I fall I lift myself up again, but I also know that there are people along the way who have helped me, and continue to help me a lot – teammates, managers, different teams as well.

“But the most important thing is yourself, how you cope, what you want to be in life, and that’s it.”