With the world’s biggest women’s football event coming to the region in two year’s time, Tonga Football Association is leaving no stone unturned as they seek to earn a spot on the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 roster.
This week TFA staff are in Vava’u, a northern island group, where they’re running trials for the women’s national team as part of the strategy to prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers, as well as ensure the opportunity to represent Tonga is offered to as many footballers as possible.
While Tonga have performed well on the regional stage with strong performances at both the OFC Women’s Nations Cup and the Pacific Games, the strength of the senior squad has fallen away in recent years due to a number of factors, which include a lack of international match opportunities.
However, since recovering from illness, Adelaide Tu’ivailala, has returned to her role at the helm of women’s football with some ambitious plans for the women’s game across Tonga, including a dream to see Tonga qualify for its first Women’s World Cup in 2023.
With strong support from FIFA, the Heilala Manongi programme is helping build participation across the four main island groups of Tonga and is fast becoming an important pathway for players, coaches, volunteers and administrators alike.
“It has been so exciting to see more girls playing football nowadays, and we will build a safe environment for them, and that includes female players, female coaches, female referees and female administrators,” Tu’ivailala, a former national team goalkeeper, said.