Words by: Justin Akau’ola Tonga FA
In an exhilarating display of sporting prowess and national pride, the Mataliki has set foot in Apia, Samoa to partake in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament- Oceania Qualifier.
As the Olympic torch of hope continues to burn brightly, players from across Oceania are converging in Apia to vie for a coveted spot in the upcoming Olympic Games. Among them, the spirited contingent from Tonga stands tall, eager to leave an indelible mark on the footballing landscape.
Led by the TFA Chief of Football as coach, Kilifi Uele, and bolstered by a roster of skilled players, team Tonga exudes confidence as they embark on this monumental journey. From the training grounds of Loto-Tonga Soccer Centre to the lush fields of Samoa, the team has honed their skills and fine-tuned their strategies in preparation for the challenges that lie ahead.
(Photo Credit: Tonga FA -new head coach Kilifi Uele)
Adding to the excitement are four debut players hailing from overseas—Telly Vunipola, Lisimani Helu, Leila Haugen, and Eden Makaafi. Their inclusion continues to signify the new era for Tongan football, one marked by diversity and talent from around the world.
Among the 27 travelling players, eight hail from last year’s Under-19 team, bringing with them youthful exuberance and a hunger for success. Additionally, two players are included from last year’s Under-16 squad, demonstrating the nation’s commitment to nurturing young talent and building a sustainable footballing future.
Notably, the squad features rising star, 16-year-old Tama’a Faletau, whose meteoric rise through the ranks has captured the imagination of fans and pundits alike. With skill and determination beyond her years, Faletau embodies the future of Tongan football, offering a glimpse into the potential that lies ahead.
Furthermore, the team boasts seasoned stars such as ‘Ana Polovili, Daviana Vaka, and Sachi Swift, whose experience and leadership on the field will be crucial.
Coach Kilifi Uele has spoken of his team’s unwavering determination and commitment to represent Tonga with honour and integrity. He has emphasised the significance of unity and teamwork, highlighting the strength that lies in their collective resolve.
The Olympic qualifiers in Samoa promise to be a fiercely contested affair, with each team vying for supremacy on the field of play. But for Team Tonga, the journey is about more than just winning—it’s about showcasing the resilience, spirit, and unwavering passion that define their nation.
Confirmed squad is as follows:
Leila Hausia Hauge