The Tonga Tala has created history at the Vodafone Arena, after becoming the first ever Tongan netball team to qualify for the World Cup.
The unknown Tongans were the surprise package of the qualifiers and they began their campaign with a 69 -52 win over Samoa, then thrashed Fiji 59 – 29 and pulverised Papua New Guinea 89 – 28.
They came into the Oceania Netball World Cup Qualifiers as the only unranked team but have fast become the favourites, winning all their three matches so far.
Tonga coach Jaqua Pori-Makea-Simpson said qualifying for the world cup meant a lot not only for the players but for all the people of Tonga at home and abroad.
“It is outstanding as Tonga has never qualified for a world cup, I hope everybody is exceptionally proud of them (the players), I know I am and it was part of the plan, but three years ago if you would have asked me if this would happen, I probably wouldn’t be too confident in answering,” Pori-Makea-Simpson said.
Tonga came with the intent to get a spot in the World Cup, they stuck to their game plan and it paid off for them.
Makea-Simpson thanked all their supporters at home, especially the Tonga Netball Association who have kept working with their local players in terms of issuing training programs during the pandemic.
“They have done an outstanding job but you know for us it just goes to show that you do not need a lot of time together to achieve something really big,” she said.
Local competitions have been impacted by the volcanic eruptions and tsunami in January and then the COVID pandemic.
Tonga will face the Cook Islands in their final match on Friday, July 22 at the Vodafone Arena in Suva.