YONEX North Harbour International - Future Series
Waikato International - International Series
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Wow, what an action-packed first two days in Tonga! I arrived on to a full ceremonial welcome as I shared the flight from Auckland with his majesty the King of Tonga.
Sione Vainikolo, Tonga’s National Badminton Development Officer picked me up at the airport and we then met with Sione’s brother Metu who had also just finished training, and mother Leody Vainikolo, President of Tonga National Badminton Association.
On my first day Sione and I visited the TASANOC offices and had very productive meetings with both Mr Taki Taumoepeau, Secretary General of Tonga NOC, and Mr Hiko Fungavaka the Sport Development Officer. This has already lead to many future possibilities for Tonga Badminton, including extra primary school visits along with SDO’s from other sports next week.
We also met with Mr Viliami Liava’a the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Training, Youth and Sports to discuss facilities and training. In the afternoon we attended training at Atele Stadium. I was very impressed to see many new young badminton players that SIone has been training well, they are very athletic and learning badminton skills very quickly!
Afterwards the Vainikolo family kindly took me out to Liku’alofa Beach for a Tongan feast cultural dance display, which was amazing! However, pretty soon the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami warnings started to come in, we had a few hours to rest before heading up to higher ground on the road outside the Royal Palace, where with the rest of the population we slept on mats on the grass beside vehicles, waiting out until morning when the warnings were cancelled, and thankfully was no damage.
Later in the day I attended the weekly Saturday practice back at Atele Stadium. Weekend trainings are much busier and we had over twenty players in attendance. We covered practice structure, movement and footwork skills and learned new drills and games to practice for hours until too tired to continue. Afterwards I had a very productive meeting with members of the TNBA to discuss their needs and possibilities for the future.
Sunday, I am dressing in white and joining Tongans at church to pray for all those affected in Christchurch, Japan and around the Pacific and hope Mother Nature will give the world some respite.