Words by: Justin Akau’ola Tonga FA In an exhilarating display of sporting prowess and national pride, the Mataliki has set foot in Apia, Samoa to partake in the Women’s Olympic…
The Tonga Football Association (TFA) has continued to look to the future of the game with the completion of a new headquarters for Vava’u Island called Lolomana’ia Park.
This facility, which opened in March 2020, was supported by the FIFA Forward Development Programme. TFA are grateful to FIFA for their continued support and were fortunate to have collaborated on five successful FIFA Goal Projects between 2002–2015.
The TFA President Lord Ve’ehala has been instrumental in bringing about positive change and Ve’ehala was re-elected to his post for another four-year term in 2019.
Both Loto-Tonga Soka Centre and Lolomana’ia Park are now a hive of activity with various domestic competitions being held at the new facility, which includes a well-equipped gymnasium. National sides and elite players also assemble there to prepare for matches.
Football still comes second to the sport of rugby in Tonfga, but the global game is becoming increasingly popular among the nation’s younger population.
TFA is working hard to develop their grassroots programmes as well as improve standards at the elite level with a long-term plan to ensure national teams become more competitive in Oceania.
TFA has been chosen alongside five other countries to pilot a new FIFA women’s football development programme that began in 2020.
The project will focus on growing participation, which is a key measure for TFA in its current development strategy.
TFA has a strong foundation favouring women’s football development and therefore has been identified as a FIFA Member Association with great potential in supporting this goal. Before rolling out this FIFA participation strategy globally, it is important that TFA helps carry out a successful pilot phase.
Tonga’s U-18 women’s futsal team became the first Tongan team to represent the nation in a global setting at the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina in 2018.
TFA has made great strides in development during the past few years, including qualifying for the men’s OFC U-20 Championship for the first time. Some of those players got their start in football as part of the Just Play programme back in 2009.