AUCKLAND, 23 SEPTEMBER 2015 (OFC) --- Hosting two OFC tournaments in the space of just over a month is no mean feat, but one which the Tonga Football Association has taken in its stride.
After welcoming the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifiers – OFC Stage 1 from 31 August to 4 September, the capital of Nuku’alofa will next week be taken over by international football players and staff once again.
The latest tournament, the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, runs from 1-10 October at the Loto-Tonga Soka Centre.
Featuring New Zealand, Samoa, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Tonga, the competition’s winners will receive direct entry to next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
TFA CEO Lui Aho believes hosting both events has value not only for Tongan football, but the country as a whole.
“Hosting Stage 1 of the OFC qualifiers earlier this month was fantastic, with some quality football played by all of the attending nations,” Aho said.
“Now we turn our attention to the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, where direct entry to the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup is up for grabs.
“To host these types of tournaments is a great honour and a fantastic boost for the game here in Tonga.
“It is not just about showcasing our football facilities, but also our beautiful nation, which is put on display every time we get the chance to hold one of these tournaments.
“The 2019 Pacific Games will also be held in Nuku'alofa, making this an exciting time to be involved in sport in Tonga.”
This will be the second time Tonga have hosted the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship, with the first ever edition of the tournament being held there back in 2002.
Interest in football in Tonga is high right now, and TFA head of women’s football Adelaide Tu'ivailala says it offers a great opportunity to increase the profile of the game.
“In Tonga we have radio stations who want to provide live commentary of all the OFC U-20 Women’s Championship games,” she says.
“And with many of the players still attending school this year, their principals have expressed interest in allowing students to go and watch the games Tonga play during the day.”
Tonga start their OFC U-20 Women’s Championship campaign against defending champions New Zealand on 1 October at 13h00.... PACNEWS