Twenty five beach soccer referees from Tonga’s Ha’apai islands took the opportunity to upskill in the latest FIFA MA-Beach Soccer Refereeing Course last week.  

The workshop ran from September 13-17 and was conducted by FIFA Beach Soccer Referee Instructor and OFC Referee Development Officer Neil Poloso online via Zoom, with assistance from FIFA/OFC Referees Instructor and Tonga Football Association (TFA) Head of Refereeing Tevita Vea. 

OFC Head of Refereeing Kevin Stoltenkamp also offered support online throughout the course.  

The workshop was delivered in three parts, theoretical, practical and fitness, while they also reviewed the new amendments of the FIFA Beach Soccer Laws of the Game. 

Group photo of Ha’apai beach soccer referees. Photo Credit: TFA Media.

Vea said he was pleased by the commitment and dedication from each member.  

“Only beach soccer is played on the sands of Ha’apai, which is why we at TFA thought it was necessary to hold a course there and involve as many referees as we could,” Vea said.  

“I was glad to witness the sacrifices and progress they made in a short amount of time.   

“Our referees are assets to our game and it is our priority to ensure we provide them with the best tools possible.” 

The Ha’apai islands are located halfway between the main island of Tongatapu in the south and Vava’u in the north. Nine of the participants were based in the outer islands of Ha’apai which meant they spent an hour each morning and evening on a small boat to attend the course. 

Ha’ano FC referee Malakai Veatupu – who was one of the nine – said the course material on offer made it worthwhile.  

“Leaving my family each day was not easy but that’s how much we love the game,” Veatupu said.  

“The course taught us how to minimise our mistakes, the importance of executing tasks during field of play and how the outcome of our decisions can have an impact on teams. 

“I aim to referee at FIFA level one day and with Tevita Vea’s encouragement I believe we are headed in the right direction.”