Twenty-two players gathered in Vava’u last week for an internal workshop ahead of Tonga’s national women’s team naming.
Trials for the national team started in April as part of the Tonga Football Association’s (TFA) strategy to prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 qualifiers.
Coached by former Australian Matildas representative Connie Selby, a final week-long camp will run from June 18-26 in Tongatapu involving local players before the team is selected.
Tonga’s most recent notable international matches were at the Pacific Games in Samoa in 2019, where they beat New Caledonia 3-2 and American Samoa 12-0 in the group stages but were unable to advance to the semi-finals after losing to Samoa and Fiji.
Among OFC’s 11 Member Associations, Tonga are currently ranked fourth with a FIFA world ranking of 89th.
The Vava’u workshop was facilitated by TFA’s Women’s Development Officer Adelaide Tuivailala with team culture and environment the central themes.
Tuivailala said she was overwhelmed by the engagement from Vava’u.
“There was a lot of interaction throughout the entire workshop, I realised how talented the girls were and it gave me confidence around where we are heading as an association,” she said.
“I continued to remind them that Rome wasn’t built in a day but if they improve and make sacrifices good things will happen.”
Vava’u player Enisolo Fahina said the invitation to the workshop made her proud.
“To be there as one of the best on the island motivated me to showcase everything I had to offer,” she said.
“It helped me with my personal life and career as a professional footballer.
“One thing I learned was the importance of lending a hand to assist my teammates as I can’t do it all on my own.”
Vava’u-based coach Alisona Mataele said she was thrilled with the feedback from her squad.
“To see how the women presented themselves throughout the workshop was promising to see,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to the final camp and seeing the combinations between players from both the islands.”