Body blow to Tonga's Government as female boxer leads team at Commonwealth Games opening ceremony

An act at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on the Gold Coast dealt a body blow to Tonga's Government.

While debate is still raging over Tonga's decision to ban public schoolgirls from boxing and rugby, its Games team was led out by a woman boxer.

Tonga's Ministry of Education couldn't help but receive the message loud and clear when the young female boxer was chosen by the Sports and Olympic Committee to be flagbearer for the kingdom.

"I hear about the stuff that's going on in Tonga about the girls boxing and rugby. But I have no comment on that at the moment. I will concentrate on getting a gold for Tonga," said the flagbearer, Magan Maka.

No comment was needed. The very act of leading the Tongan Commonwealth Games team into the stadium speaks volumes.

Back home in the islands, the controversy over banning girls at public schools from boxing or rugby continues. 

Tonga's Ministry of Education believes some sports are more appropriate for boys.

"It's not discriminatory, it's a cultural issue," said Claude Tupou, CEO of the Education Ministry.

"We the boys are doing all the hard works. We climb the coconut trees, we climb the breadfruits, we go to the bush and pick all the tapiotas and all the hard works. The girls are working at home."

The Ministry of Education maintains the ban is enshrined in the curriculum, but may take it to public consultation.

"I think it's very important to the whole world to understand people do things in different ways," Mr Tupou said.

Tonga's flagbearer says girls should be encouraged to do what they do best.

"Keep looking forward. Even if it's not boxing, if it's any other sport, you know try. It will take you places like here," Ms Maka said.

And it's there at the Commonwealth Games she hopes to put Tonga on the map for the very sport banned for some in her home country.