Tonga will contest international netball for the first time since becoming affiliated with the International Netball Federation (INF) when they compete at the Pacific Games in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, next week.
Netball Australia partners with the Tonga Netball Association (TNA) through the Australian Government’s Pacific Sports Partnership program to implement One Netball Pacific.
Until three years ago, Tonga was more likely to be seen playing their adapted version of 9-a-side netball once a year in December.
Netball Australia has been working with TNA to train coaches, officials, administrators and Community Mobilisers, to set up a Board and clubs, to employ staff, draft policies and plan and deliver quality programs since 2011.
Previously run entirely by volunteers, TNA now has a fully equipped office and employs four female local staff members.
More than 350 coaches and umpires have national accreditations and over 13,000 people have participated in one of TNA’s three annual tournaments, casual workplace competitions and school leagues.
This huge increase in support for netball has been led by the award winning Kau Mai Tonga program, which includes a mass media campaign and large-scale netball events across the islands of Tonga to encourage more women and girls to start playing netball.
The program shows the wide-reaching impact of investing in grassroots sport development. ‘It’s been a big gain for Tonga Netball’ said the General Manager, Salote Sisifa.
The success of the Kau Mai Tonga program has created a pathway that will encourage more girls to start and continue playing netball and provide national role models for them to look up to.
Watch the full story behind this amazing transformation in the video below.
Tonga, who departs for the Pacific Games on Tuesday, will compete against Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and Cook Islands.
The 15th Pacific Games will be held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea from 4 to 18 July and you can catch coverage on NITV.