Oceania Football March 20, 2014 – The 2014 OFC Women’s Championship saw the wide open margins by which New Zealand has long dominated their Pacific counterparts narrowed.
The gap still exists, but with the work being put into the women’s game from Member Association’s like Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu this tournament was evidence that the hard work is starting to pay off.
For Tonga the 2014 event was a major milestone. In their last appearance in 2010 the side was beaten 11-0 by New Zealand, four years later they reduced that deficit to 3-1.
Tonga Football Association Women’s Development Officer Adelaide Tu’ivailala says women’s football development is incredibly important for TFA.
“Right now we’re striving to develop women’s football and maybe the way I look at it is coaches for women should have different ways to coach the women’s teams,” she says.
One way Tu’ivailala has stood true to that was sending U-20 coach Penateti Feke to Auckland for the FIFA/English FA Coaching Course led by FA Head of Elite Women’s Development Brent Hills and former English FA coach educator and player development consultant John Allpress, who is now working with Tottenham Hotspur, before the pair travelled to Tonga.
“We were very fortunate that we were able to receive them. Women’s football is the strength of Tonga football.”
Tu’ivailala says the Tonga course attracted 18 participants, the majority of them coaching women’s teams, with all of them expressing delight at how much they took from the course at its conclusion.
“I was observing when they brought the U-20 squad in to do the practical sessions. What they told me about the warm up is that you need to get the girls to warm up everything,” Tu’ivailala says.
“That means their head, their brain, their eyes, and their body. It really is amazing how they do the coaching and what they taught the coaches back in Tonga.”
For Feke it was a chance to upgrade her skills ahead of a major tournament, a move that appears to have paid dividends for her team.
“The English FA course held in Tonga was not totally different from what we had in Auckland, but was working more with grassroots players,” Feke says.
“It was very helpful, especially with the upcoming tournament, as the instructors were much more experienced coaches and also they have been working in football for a very long time.”
Feke adds that using the U-20 squad members during sessions meant Allpress and Hills were able to give direct feedback in regards to what she needed to work on to get results.
“Things often go wrong in football and on the road to success you need to adapt and change for the greater good,” Feke says of the main points she took away.
“The tournament results are your evaluation of whether you are on the right path or not and Tonga has made their first step on the road to success through our great result against New Zealand.”
Feke believes this course, alongside those offered by OFC, have been hugely beneficial because of the diverse approaches they take.
“It gave us a chance to get to know how England and other countries and clubs from UEFA, one of the most dominant football confederation, play the beautiful game, train their players, improve their players and provided more ideas and philosophies that can help in developing the game in Tonga.
“The coaching courses we have in Oceania and in Tonga are one way, and the FA coaching course offered another way – all contributing to the greater good of the women’s game here in Tonga.”