Team Tonga are thriving in the Pacific badminton scene as their national federation grows stronger and their coaches become more competent.
The Pacific Sports Partnership (PSP) also plays a significant role in Tonga’s development, helping to turn the BWF Shuttle Time initiative into a reality for many youngsters across the country, while supporting talented players with additional funding, knowledge and resources. PSP has been supporting Tonga for six years now and is part of an exclusive partnership with the Australian Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs.
Evidently, the hard work is finally starting to pay off as Tonga infiltrate the Quarter-Finals at this year’s Samoa 2019 Pacific Games. In the Individual competition, players from the top three teams (Fiji, New Caledonia and Tahiti) have dominated the individual competition. However, Tonga have taken three of the Quarter-Final spots, joined by Samoa and Kiribati, who have collectively taken three other Quarter-Final spots.
Tonga’s players/pairs have been guided into day two by MaryJane Esei Sifa; the only female coach in the competition.
Renaey Naaniumotu will compete in the Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles Quarter-Finals later today, with his partner Lauti Naaniumotu.
Meanwhile, Lata Isitolo will celebrate her 15th birthday today with a Quarter-Finals appearance with fellow Tongan Litea Tatafu.
“I am so happy to be here, and I hope that I can play hard and well on my birthday. It is my first time representing Tonga in the Pacific Games and I hope to get a medal at these Games before I retire”, says Lata.
Lata has already proven that she can compete with the best, after narrowly missing out on a game (23-21) against the first seed in the Women’s Singles, Danielle Whiteside (Fiji).
Lata was one of the many individuals who was introduced to badminton through the BWF Shuttle Time program, having taken part in her first session four years ago.
Team coach, MaryJane Esei Sifa, is elated to see members of their team making such promising progress on the international stage.
“As a coach, I want to help the kids. I would like to give them a career and help with their education. Players such as Lata have come such a long way in just four years.”
“Men are more prominent in sports in Tonga. While I want to inspire all players, I want to show other women that they have a space too”, says MaryJane.
Team Tonga will be competing from 11.30am (local time) today in the following matches:
- Remi Rossi  (TAH) vs Renaey Naaniumotu (TGA)
- Johanna Kou/ Dgeniva Matauli  (NCL) vs Lata Isitolo/Litea Tatafu (TGA)
- Ronan Ho-Yagues/ Morgan Paitio  (NCL) vs Lauti Naaniumotu/Renaey Naaniumotu (TGA)
Keep track of the results on Tournament Software.
The matches on court one, including Tonga’s Men’s Singles will be available to watch on the live stream.