Tonga will become the second ever nation to gain local access to education and qualification pathways in football through the OFC Education Centre when Tonga Football Association launch the pilot programme at Loto Tonga Soka Centre this Saturday.

The Oceania-wide programme will provide each member association with an educational institute where participants will be able to learn and share knowledge, skills and experience in football.

Participants will receive OFC-recognised training in a range of football topics through a curriculum divided into four levels – foundation courses, certification courses, licencing courses and refresher courses – and will gain regionally-recognised accreditation as they progress through the levels.

Following a successful launch in Cook Islands, OFC President David Chung is looking forward to opening the doors to another OFC Education Centre and providing more opportunity for Tongans passionate about a career in football.

“The OFC Education Centre will be a foundation for the development of football in Tonga by providing structured pathways to qualification and careers for those interested in football and sports,” he said.

“Participants will gain access to education in topics extending beyond OFC’s traditional education programme including administration, financial management, sports medicine and fitness and event management without having to travel to attend regional courses to obtain qualifications.”

By developing all areas of football at a domestic level, each member association will be able to improve their ability both on and off the field which, in turn, will raise the overall standards of the game in the region.

“As you grow up, you learn to crawl before you stand up. The same goes in football. Local coaches and officials need to understand the structure of football and the domestic competition needs to be longer for players to improve technically,” Chung said.

“The OFC Education Centre will improve football in Tonga by empowering local OFC-trained instructors to contribute to the development of their communities while also providing participants with a better understanding of all aspects of the game as it continues to grow and advance.”

Tonga Football Association President the Honourable Lord Ve’ehala is very proud to have Tonga chosen as one of the pilot nations and is confident in the ability of his local team of administrators and instructors to make an impact in Tonga through the centre.

“We are honoured to be a part of this historic milestone for the Oceania Football Confederation,” he said.

“Tonga is a small and isolated nation. Gaining better access to education is very important for us and to be offered the same opportunities as our fellow Oceania nations will help us continue to develop and improve in football.

“We have a team of passionate and talented people at Tonga Football Association and I am confident that we can contribute to creating future leaders in Tonga through the centre.”

The OFC Education Centre pilot launch for Tonga will be held at Loto Tonga Soka Centre on Saturday 23 September at 10am (local time). A press conference for the launch will immediately follow.

Find more information on the OFC Education Centre here.