OPINION: Interim board’s decision insults coach and players and infuriates Mate Ma‘a’s loyal fans

Ko e tootoo konga lalahi eni mei he fakakaukau kuo tohi atu i lalo i he fakamatala fakapālangi: Kuo faka’ita’i lahi ‘e he tu’utu’uni ‘a e poate fakataimi ‘a e kau poupou faivelenga mo māfana faufau ‘o e Mate Ma’a Tonga. Ko e uhinga kuo ‘omai ‘e he sea fakataimi’, Siaosi Koloamatangi, ‘oku fu’u vaivai ia ke fai ai hano tuli ‘o e faiako. Me’a ni’ ne ‘ikai mei lava ke nau veteki fakalelei pe ‘eni ‘i loto ‘oua ‘e tuli ‘a e faiako ‘o hoko ai ke faka’ita’i e kau va’inga? ‘E lava nai ‘e he poate fakataimi’ ‘o toe fa’u ha fo’i timi tu’u ki mu’a kuo a’u ‘enau va’inga’ ‘o ‘ikai toe lau ai e Mate Ma’a Tonga’ ko ha timi mei he Pasifiki’ ka kuo taku ia ko e timi fakavaha’apule’anga’. Ko e tā pupuha mo e feilaulau ‘a e tamaiki va’inga, ‘o tuku ange ‘a e pa’anga lau mano ne nau mei ma’u kae omi ki Tonga ‘o mālō pe ma’u ha vahe ai’, ‘oku hala’atā ha’ane hounga ‘e taha ki he poate ko ‘eni. Ko e poupou vela māfana ‘a e kau poupou’ tautefito ki Nu’u Sila na’a’ ne fakalotolahia ‘a e kau pule liiki fakavaha’a pule’anga’ ke toe fokotu’utu’u ha ngaahi tau lahi ange ma’a e MMT mo Nu’u Sila mo ‘Aositelēlia. Ko e fakalakalaka lahi ia ki hono teke e liiki ‘a Tonga’ ka ko e talu e hū mai ‘a e poate fakataimi’ mo e hangē kuo hōloa’ e poupou ‘a e kakai’ pea ko e tumutumu ‘eni kuo a’u ki ai ko e momoko ka ko ha momoko e kau poupou’. ‘Oku kei taimi pe ke fakakaukau’i ‘e he poate takataimi’ ‘enau tu’utu’uni’ pea fai ha me’a ki he lelei fakakātoa’.

The decision to sack Mate Ma’a coach Kristian Woolf has damaged the great spirit of rapport that has built up between fans and the team.

Kaniva news has been talking to die-hard supporters in South Auckland about the decision and they vowed to boycott any future Mate Ma’a games.

Many online users frankly expressed their fury and rage against the board. They said they would not tell their children what had happened to the national team, because the Mate Ma’a was their idol.

The fans’ great affinity with the team has manifested itself in their vocal support at matches. The team’s successes have also led Mate Ma’a to push hard for more games against tier one teams as a reward for their support.

The interim board’s decision to sack Woolf, who has coached the team to new levels of success  is discourteous to the team’s fans.

It is also a slap in the face for the team, especially those players like Jason Taumālolo who gave up playing for New Zealand or Australia for the honour of representing the kingdom.

Players like Andrew Fifita, Siua Taukeiaho, Manu Ma’u and David Fusitu’a  gave up substantial fees to play for Tonga and volunteered their time and effort to give back to the kingdom by building up the  team’s international reputation.

Fifita is reported to have forfeited a Aus$30,000 tournament payment as well as a possible Aus$20,000 payment if the Kangaroos won the World Cup.

If he takes to the field for Mate Ma’a during this year’s tournament, which starts on October 27, he will get $30 a day.

Tonga is unlikely to have the money to pay the players what they could be earning any time soon.

Thanks to the sacrifice and skill of all the Mate Ma’a players Tonga is no longer just a team from the Pacific pool, but a new force on the world rugby league stage.

They may not have won all their matches, but the world’s top tier teams now know that win or lose, the Mate Ma’a – and their fans – will make it a memorable occasion.


When interim board chair George Koloamatangi confirmed that Woolf had been sacked, he said it was because there were issues the board and Woolf could not agree on.

These included sponsorship, managing the team and negotiating with sponsors.

Were these issues really such an obstacle that they could not be solved without sacking Woolf?

All the interim board has done is to insult Woolf and the players and to shock and infuriate the fans.

With the World Nines and other matches in the offing, the decision could not have been more damaging.

As Kaniva news reported last night, judging from his comments on Thursday, Koloamatangi already seems resigned to losing at least some of the current players.

If Mate Ma’a’s players do decide to walk, does he really think he and the rest of the interim board can whip up another world-challenging team out of thin air?

It is time for the board to reconsider its decision.

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.


Latest news

Related news