As part of an ADF training program in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, in March, 280 Tongan sports officials have received internationally recognised level-one coaching and refereeing qualifications, as well as training in wellbeing and nutrition.
CAPTION: ADF Sport personnel deliver training for level one coaching, umpiring, strength and conditioning. Story by Squadron Leader Amanda Scott. Photo by Mesake Israel Taukolo.
The aim of the program is to grow sport in the Pacific by training players and former trainers to take on official roles across the participating sports and pass their knowledge to others.
A range of essential sporting equipment was donated by the participating sporting codes – the Australian Football League, Netball Australia, the National Rugby League and Rugby Australia.
It was the seventh time the program had been run over the past two years, which has accredited 1350 officials across the Pacific.
Participant Juliet Lolohea said she was happy to see AFL grow in Tonga, and it was rewarding to see new people take up the sport.
“With the skills leaned as part of this training we will be able to get others involved in AFL,” Ms Lolohea said.
“Sport is really important in Tonga; it brings people together, it’s important for our culture, it also gives young people opportunities, which is something I want to see.
“We have been visiting local schools to talk to them and teach them about AFL, and they love it. The children just smile when they see us.
“We are so grateful to the ADF for teaching us and bringing equipment to Tonga that we would never have been able to get without them. It means so much to us.”
The program was the first in-country program in Tonga following a virtual program during COVID-19 in 2022.