Fifita Moala - Tonga
My name is Fifita Moala. I played football at a very young age during my primary school days. I got involved in football because my neighbours were all playing football. The champions for the Tonga Football Competition were from my village - Lotoha’apai FC. It’s the smallest village in Tongatapu, the main island of Tonga. Seeing Lotoha’apai as champions in Tonga gave me more strength to play football and one day to be the best in women’s football in Tonga. In 2009 I joined the Just Play program that was funded by the Australian government. It was a social program but using football as a tool to deliver a healthy message. The program helped me to know about our social issues in Tonga and how to avoid the issues that we face in Tonga.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with the photos?
In the photos are my national team mates preparing for the Pacific Games in Samoa. I wanted to tell the world that we Tongans are here to play football like other countries. I’m proud to say that as long we have a ball we can play football, it doesn’t matter about the clothes we are wearing. The photos with kids remind me about me about starting as a young girl playing football. Our team has been together for over 9 years playing this wonderful game of football. Football has binded us together like true sisters in blood.
What are the opportunities for female footballers in Tonga?
To me personally football has given me opportunities to travel overseas and visit new places around the Pacific. Meeting new friends, learning new cultures and learning more about football from them. Football has kept me healthy and strong.
Why is football so important for Tonga and Tongan people?
For the world, days begin in Tonga and we are the first to kick footballs everyday! Football is great for our country because we don’t have many sports in Tonga for us to be involved in, so football is the number one for us here in Tonga. To play football we need to be fit and for us Tongans food is our problem (we can’t say no to it). So football has made us eat less, so we can be fit and get selected into national teams.
For my village football is played by everyone and this has reduced the number of people admitted to hospital or getting sick. Youth that play football less go out in night clubs and get involved in drugs.
What does football mean to you?
Football is a medicine to me, because it keeps me healthy and provides me with opportunities that help me and my people to become a healthier citizen of the world. The future for us is to be household names in Tonga and the rest of the Pacific!