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Hiko: The man teaching Tonga to love hockey

Hiko and students from FWC Nuku'alofa Primary School celebrate a goal during a hockey session
Hiko and students from FWC Nuku'alofa Primary School celebrate a goal during a hockey session.

ABC: Joanna Lester

Meet the man on a mission to make Tonga fall in love with hockey.

After years working as a development officer across every sport for Tonga's National Olympic Committee, Hiko Fungavaka decided to focus on just one.

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The sport was almost unknown in Tonga when he took up the reins two years ago.

Now, with the support of Oceania Hockey and Hockey Australia through the Australian Government-funded Pacific Sports Partnerships, Hiko is running daily hockey sessions in kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools across Tongatapu.

The sessions combine basic hockey skills, short matches and advice on living a healthy lifestyle.

Hiko (left) blows a whistle and points as a group of students holding hockey sticks celebrate around him.
Hiko's hockey sessions have become extremely popular with Tongan students who had never previously come across the sport.

ABC: Joanna Lester

And, having set the platform in schools, Hiko now hopes to channel Tonga's new enthusiasm for hockey to achieve bigger goals.

This year, Tonga will put together a team to compete in the Oceania qualifiers for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. If successful, they will represent their country in one of its newest sports on the global stage.

Hiko (right) shows four students (left) how to control a ball on grass with a hockey stick.
Hockey sessions combine physical activity with messages about healthy lifestyle and diet.

ABC: Joanna Lester

This story was produced by ABC International Development as part of the Pacific Sports Partnerships funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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