Monday, December 06 2004 @ 04:49 am ACDT
Contributed by: Brett Northey
On a hot and humid Saturday in Samoa the Tongan team were geared for their first ever Aussie Rules International. The field, a full size oval, the teams 18 a side, the umpires were set, coaches ready, national anthem sung and sipi tau completed, we were ready to write our names in the history books.
Samoa had many advantages in the match but out boys showed that they have a will to play the game and the desire to win. Our boys have never played 18 a side Aussie Rules, never played on a full length field and they have only been playing for the last 5 months, with this in mind going down by only 21 points is a huge success and teams throughout the world should be now wondering what will come from next year.
The match started off with some big hits and courageous play, which flowed on throughout the match, neither side shirked a tackle and the Tongan side step proved useful (Tongan side step is a myth created to give opposition teams a false sense of security, Tongans do not side step they just plough on through).
After the match our boys were disappointed with heads held low and even a few tears in the eyes, players and staff, but they were reminded to look back at how far they had come in 5 months, from not knowing how to play a game to playing for your country, and most of the team will get their chance next year to even the score due to the team being 15, 16 and 17 year olds.
Tonga will be hosting Samoa next year in the Polynesian Challenge and we hope to get a team from Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.
TAFA would like to thank our Sponsors ASCO Motors, ANZ Bank and Adiloas for their support over the last 12 months and we look forward to next year for a bigger and better season of Aussie Rules.
As for me, I will be returning to Australia on the 7th December, I have enjoyed my time here in Tonga and hope all the work I have done here will leave Aussie Rules in Tonga in a good position for next year.