Tongan Young Guns ready to take on Fiji.
For the first time in Tongan rugby history young ones are being selected to be national representatives at the age of 12 and 14.
They will be competing overseas in the Fiji National Provincial Tournament starting on October 20th to November 3rd.
For so many years it has been a dream for any young local boys to be part of the country’s rugby history representing the country as a ‘Ikale Tahi. This journey is a long one and starting the elite training earlier will benefit their future. 2009 is a momentous year, as the youth are being called in as the first National Under 12 and Under 14 players for Tonga.
As rugby dominates all the sports in the island Kingdom, it has become a priority to blood the new breed of talent.
Ministry of Sports came up with idea of going back to the grass roots and started a develop program of introducing the basic skills of rugby.
Mosese Fonohema from the Ministry’s says, “We started this program back in 2006, but it was through the primary school competition. We then select kids that we thought they have the ability to play rugby, I mean good rugby, which is utilizing their natural ability for the game.”
“Some of the past players are in high school level now, some are shining in the high schools competition and it is a good sign of what we have been doing for years now”.
“But in the important age of 12 and 14 is the future, starting here will enrich the talent for the nation in future world matches. Now it is a great blend, with the under 12s and 14s as well as primary and the high school boys all training hard.”
The program went on at weekend times, some shows up and some did not. But persisitence paid off and eventually huge crowds & much more kids turned up.
Rugby is a way of life in Tonga, at the moment two teams are training six days a week, and parents turns up everyday as closest support for their kids.
Mosese said “They will be leaving for Fiji and firstly play in Suva, next up they will play in the western side of Nadi.” “I truly believe that this is going to be a good experience for these kids and can be a good foundation for those who love rugby.”
Tautahi Gold centre, Heimuli Pangai is coaching the Under 14 side and he added, “I am very grateful to help out these young kids, other rugby Nations including Fiji and Samoa have done this for a long time, now it is out turn.” “The Tonga Rugby Union can be assured that these kids are the future of the game in the Kingdom.”