A key part of the ALL IN: OFC Women’s Football Strategy 2027 launched last year was to establish a Women’s Development Officer in every OFC Member Association. With that goal now achieved, we sit down to learn a little more about each of the women driving the growth of women’s football in our region. 

Adelaide ‘Laite’ Tu’ivailala is the Tonga Football Association (TFA) Head of Women’s Football and Media Officer. With over 30 years of experience in football, both on and off the pitch, she’s got a great story to tell below.  

OFC: Who is Adelaide Tu’ivailala?  

AT: I grew up in a Christian family in Nuku’alofa, Tonga and have one brother. I have a son who is based in Auckland, New Zealand attending Royal Oak Primary School. During my childhood years I was an active Girl Guide and later became an international commissioner for Tonga. I attended different leadership trainings in Fiji, Philippines, Mexico and South America. In 2000, I was selected to represent young leaders at the Asia Pacific Conference in Brunei, Darussalam. Girl Guides really helped me become the woman I am today.  

Do you have a background playing football?  

I started playing football in college when football was first introduced to girls and women in Tonga. I was also the first goalkeeper for our national women’s team that participated in the Polynesian Cup organised by OFC in 1993, 1995 and 1996.   

How did you become TFA’s Women’s Development Officer?  

I became the first female selected into TFA’s Executive Committee in 1991 and was a part of the committee for seven years. I’ve been there since TFA’s early stages of development. TFA set up an office in 1998 and I was hired full-time as an administrator. It was a challenge for me as I had several responsibilities including running competitions.  

In 2006, I then took on the role as Head of Women’s Football in Tonga full-time. Football has taken me many places. I previously attended FIFA Women’s Football symposiums in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Shanghai, Frankfurt and Vancouver. 

Why did you take on the responsibility of WDO?  

I wanted to prove to my parents that women’s football provided many opportunities and I promised I wouldn’t let them down. Since I’ve been involved I have dreamed that Tonga would one day qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and since it’s coming to our shores next year (in New Zealand), this is our greatest chance to achieve this.