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Faupula forging GK development in Tonga

Soane Faupula is the Goalkeeping Development Officer for the Tonga Football Association.

Soane Faupula has taken some unique steps towards improving the development of goalkeeping in Tonga.

He recently translated OFC’s Introduction to Goalkeeping course into the Tongan language to ensure it was easier for the country’s goalkeeping coaches to understand.

Generally speaking, all OFC course material is produced in English but Faupula wanted to ensure he could connect with his coaches.

Faupula is the Tonga Football Association’s Goalkeeping Development Officer, a role he has held since January.

The 29-year-old presented the course in the Ha’apai, Vava’u and ‘Eua islands across Tonga.

His decision to take the time to translate the course material was a simple one.

“For me the understanding of the content is the most important thing while I’m delivering the course,” Faupula said.

“All participants read the content before I had started. That made it easy for the participants to understand and it’s quick for me while I’m explaining it to them.”

OFC Goalkeeping Development Consultant James Bannatyne said it was great to see Faupula go out of his way to do this extra work.

“I first met Soane at an OFC goalkeeping course in 2012 and have followed and supported his progress since,” Bannatyne said.

“Soane has made a great contribution to the OFC goalkeeping development team and this collaboration is vital to our goalkeeper development in the region.

“The commitment he has shown since beginning in the role earlier this year is hugely encouraging. We look forward to seeing both his personal progress and the progress of goalkeeping in Tonga.”

Faupula was a reluctant goalkeeper in his playing days and was pushed into the role out of necessity for his club side Lotoha’apai United FC in 2009.

A Tonga Major League title followed in 2011 alongside representative honours when he was part of Tonga’s squad for their FIFA World Cup qualifiers as well their national U-23 side at the OFC Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 2012.

He enjoyed further success at club level with Lotoha’apai United – including playing in the Qualifying Stage of the OFC Champions League in 2014 – before a knee injury forced him from the field in 2018.

Now he is firmly focused on improving the standards of Tongan goalkeeping and coach development is a vital aspect of that plan.

Faupula has also been the goalkeeping coach for various Tongan national youth sides in recent years and the senior men’s team.

His path to improving goalkeeping in Tonga involves four steps:

  • Recruit and improve the knowledge of local goalkeeping coaches
  • Create a goalkeeping development school and centre of excellence
  • Provide additional training to senior goalkeepers in Tonga
  • Translate all relevant goalkeeping development content into the Tongan language

Bannatyne was pleased that Faupula had such a clear vision.

“We are excited to provide Soane with the various tools he will require to make his goalkeeping plans come to fruition and are committed to helping him develop the discipline in Tonga.”

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