The sports’ funding of TOP$400,000 that the Tongan government has granted for the sports’ federation in Tonga gave a huge relief to the ‘Ikale Tahi Team authorities and supporters.
The funding indicates the government is taking a promising direction in walking hand-in-hand with thousands of Tongan rugby union fans to support the ‘Ikale Tahi team.
The chairperson for Tonga Rugby Union, Epeli Taione applauded the initiative.
"I am probably speaking on behalf of both rugby codes, that we are absolutely grateful for such a contribution.
“We are more thankful that the relationship between Government and all the sports federations is heading on the right direction. We would like to acknowledge our Board member Samiu Vaipulu and (the government) for their help, and to Lord Vaea and the Ministry of Internal Affairs for making it happen. I am sure both the Mate Ma'a Tonga and the Ikaletahi will show us what they made of comes Nov,” Taione said.
Last but not the least on behalf of the TRU Board, Management and Players I would like to wish Mate Ma'a Tonga a wonderful and successful Rugby League World Cup,” he added.
The allocation of the funds was TOP$100,000 for the ‘Ikale Tahi, TOP $250,000 for the Mate Ma'a Tonga National Rugby League and Tonga's Official Team to the 2014 Winter Olympics Games has been given TOP $50,000.
In a fundraising dinner in Auckland on Wednesday last week, MP Semisi Sika said when the Mate Ma’a Tonga team arrived in Tonga for their training sessions for the World Cup 2013, he approached the government in the House, begging for them to help fund the national rugby league team.
MP Sika is also the president of the Tonga Rugby League Association.
Although the funding he sought was primarily for the Mate Ma’a Tonga team, he said he was pleased the government’s grant package included other sports.
The TOP$100,000 allocated for the ‘Ikale Tahi was the first to be given to the national rugby union after a series of unsuccessful bids in the last two world cup tournaments, by the TRU board and People’s Members of Parliament for the government to help fund the 'Ikale Tahi team.
The government declined to approve funding apparently because of the political upheavals and infighting that created chaos within the Rugby Union Board for years.
Recently in May, the government insisted the TRU resolve their difficulties. This appears to have been achieved.
Captain Nili Latu of the 'Ikale Tahi team said he was thankful for the government's financial contribution. The funds for the 'Ikale Tahi and the Mate Ma'a Tonga teams will help pay the players' allowances.
Both 'Ikale Tahi and the Mate Ma’a Tonga teams set to be in Europe with the ‘Ikale Tahi touring the Northern Hemisphere in November and the Mate Ma'a Tonga National Rugby League Team is now joining the RLW 2013 in England.