Australian rules football in Tonga

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Australian rules football in Tonga
Country Tonga
Governing body Tonga Australian Football Association
National team Tonga
First played 1985, Haʻutu-Fāhefa, Tongatapu
Registered players 150 (total)
50 (adult)
100 (junior)
National competitions

Australian rules football in Tonga has its origins in local schools the 1980s, but has been played on an organised basis only since 2003, when the game's governing body, the Tonga Australian Football Association was founded.

There are currently approximately 150 or more Tongans regularly playing Australian rules football.[1]

Tonga's senior team competed internationally at their 2011 Australian Football International Cup debut achieving the highly creditable position of ninth out of 18 teams defeating many more fancied teams..

History[edit]

The first Australian rules football believed to have been played in Tonga was during the Christmas break of 1985–1986, when a Melbourne teacher named Denis Towers visited the country briefly with his Tongan-born wife, and played the game with some 40 Tongan men from the local villages of Hautu-Fahefa on the grounds of the local primary school.[citation needed]

Further, during the late 1990s, Ewen Gracie, a former Melbourne primary school and sports teacher, also spent a few years employed at Liahona High School, in Tonga, during which time he also made time to teach young Tongans the skills of the Australian football game.[citation needed]

A schools competition has been played yearly since then, including a tour to Samoa. Development officers from Australia have visited to islands to assist in creating development programs.

In 2006 the first TAFA PTH junior scholarship was awarded to Alex Fungavaka who was placed at Norwood Morialta High School in Adelaide.[2]

International competition[edit]

The senior men's representative team is known as the Black Marlins and hosted Australian amateur team the Fitzroy Reds in late 2006. A team representing the Melbourne Tongan community also competed at the 2004 Australian Football Multicultural Cup.

Although the Black Marlins could not commit to the full draw of the 2008 Australian Football International Cup, the Tongan side did arrive in Australia and participate in the multicultural division of the competition against Team Africa.

Notable Tongan players[edit]

Fatui Ataata managed 35 games in the Collingwood Football Club reserves between 1983-8.[3]

In 2010, notable rugby league player Israel Folau of Tongan descent signed with the Greater Western Sydney Football Club.[4]

References[edit]

External links[edit]