His talent on the football field landed him the honour of representing Tonga in the inaugural OFC Education Centre, but 15 year old Tonga U-17 Viliami Alipate Tukia has his eyes set on making the most of the academic pathways New Zealand has on offer.
“I’m looking forward to playing good football here but I’m also looking forward to studying. I want to get good academic results for when I get back home,” he said.
“English and history are my favourite subjects and my goal is to become a lawyer. A football player and a lawyer,” he added.
“I want to learn more about the New Zealand culture and develop my skills in soccer but my major goal is to do well academically.”
Tukia joins six other student-athletes from across the region in the centre, which sees the group enrol at One Tree Hill College for their education while engaging in an intensive OFC football training programme.
Tonga High School Principal Amelia Folaumahina was proud to produce the first Tongan student to participate in the centre.
‘’When I received the good news, I thanked the Lord for this blessing on us,” she said.
“We are overjoyed that the first Tongan student to be selected comes from Tonga High School.
‘’Viliami is an outstanding student and I believe this will really help him develop his skills in football.”
Tonga Football Secretary General Lui Áho was very honoured to send one of their most promising athletes and students to be a part of the first implementation of the Education Centre.
“Tonga FA is very appreciative of OFC President David Chung for opening up a pathway for our young and talented players’ development,’’ Áho said.
The OFC Education Centre – powered by AIA is a full-time pilot programme being implemented by the Oceania Football Confederation. Its purpose is to empower lives and develop high performance people by linking academic study with football learning led by OFC Education Centre coaching staff. Seven student-athletes from OFC Member Associations have been included in the inaugural intake, and will spend two terms at One Tree Hill College in Auckland, New Zealand.
For more on Tonga football go to www.tongafootball.to