Tonga Football Association
Tonga Football Association (TFA) has ushered in a new era for Tongan football with the completion of a successful FIFA Goal Project that has seen the construction of international standard fields, a national academy and new headquarters. TFA President Honourable Ve’ehala has been instrumental in bringing about the changes. The Loto-Tonga Soka Centre is 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 all-pervasive sport of rugby 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. Since hosting the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship in 1999, Tonga has continued to place high importance on the women’s game.
This approach has paid off with a number of high placings in OFC tournaments. The national women’s team made the semi-finals of the 2011 Pacific Games and finished runners-up as hosts of the Oceania Olympic preliminary qualifiers in 2012. Tonga’s male footballers have also achieved some notable results in recent months with the national team earning a runners-up placing in Stage 1 of the Oceania qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in 2011 and domestic champions Lotoha’apai United just missing out on a spot in the final of the 2013 OFC Champions League Preliminary tournament on goal difference as hosts. In August/September 2015, Tonga played host to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Qualifier – Oceania Stage 1 tournament, and their U-20 and U-17 squads performed well in the qualifiers for the respective OFC age-group tournaments, narrowly missing out on qualification in 2016.