Tonga accelerates plans for sports development

The Tonga Sports Council is accelerating its plans for development in the local sporting fraternities in the country.

The council made the decision after reviewing Team Tonga’s performance at the 2019 Samoa Pacific Games where athletes won a total of 29 medals.

TSC Chairman, who was also the Chef de Mission to the games, 'Ikani Taliai, Netina Latu and Programme Coordinator, Inoke ‘Afeaki, confirmed that the council will now focus on continuing to train athletes, prepare sporting competitions and make use of funding received.

The council will also give talented athletes a pathway where they could make a living.

“I’ve done that for my career and there’s no reason why we can’t do that for more kids in Tonga,” said Afeaki, who is a former Rugby Union player.

Afeaki also said they have started drawing up strategic plans aimed at keeping local athletes fit.

 “We started the focus on fitness, more specifically aerobic fitness. When I arrived in the country in 2017 for the South Pacific Mini Games, it was clear to me that our athletes were not fit, far from it. So, we had three months to put them on a programme, which is actually a continuous one where fitness can be built over the years.”

“We’ve clearly shown that the three months’ programme that we ran really worked well.”

“If you have a look at all the teams, they were competing right to the end. Even if they just lost, they were there at the end still going hard.”

However, Afeaki said although the programme increased athletes’ fitness level from their base level they are not far off their base level.

He added they have a lot more statistics on the athletes’ performance which would be studied and used to find out ways of doing better next time.

“Because in my view, we’re at 50% capacity at the moment and we can double this next time. But that’s if we have the right preparation and the right funding.”

Afeaki added that during the Pacific Games, a lot of effort was put in by TSC staff including Netina Latu, who worked day and night making sure athletes were looked after so they could focus on their events.