From the archive: Tonga use Silver to inspire grassroots
The national team returns home from the 2019 Pacific Games with a silver medal and a promising future in world netball.
First published August 2019
Although labelled as the underdogs going into the 16th edition of the tournament, Tonga looked strong from the outset with comfortable wins throughout the preliminary rounds and holding off host team Samoa by four in the semi-final.
It was these winning combinations that Tonga Netball Association CEO Salote Sisifa says wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the Australia Pacific Sports Linkages Program*.
The Australian Government funded Australia Pacific Sports Linkages Program supported the team in their preparations for the Pacific Games.
“The government funding allowed us to travel to Melbourne and Sydney and scout for the best talent out there,” said Sisifa.
“With athletes based in Tonga, New Zealand and Australia it allowed us to come together for a three-day camp in Sydney and connect as a team and ensure we were competitive going into the Pacific Games,” said Sisifa.
Without funding, athletes would often need to travel to trials and training camps at their own expense or with a small contribution by Tonga Netball Association.
“Local girls are able to experience life as an elite athlete without having to worry about the financial costs involved,” said Sisifa.
Melbourne-based goal shooter Uneeq Palavi represented the country for the first time at this year’s Pacific Games.
Palavi has made her way through both the Netball Victoria and Netball Australia pathways and most recently played for the 2019 Australian Netball League winning side, the Victorian Fury.
* The Pacific Sports Linkages Program was the predecessor to PacificAus Sports.