Campaign against ban on Tongan schoolgirls playing rugby gains momentum

A group of Tongan sportswomen have won political and royal support in their campaign against a ban preventing girls from playing rugby at Tonga's public schools. 

Tonga's education ministry put a ban on girls playing rugby and boxing at public schools because officials say it supposedly affects the worth and value of Tongan women. 

"I am very upset as a sports person and a sports developer I'm deeply hurt as a Tongan woman that this banning has come about" said Auckland Vulcans girls coach, Caroline Matamua.

Hon Phaedra 'Anaseini Tupouveihola Fusitu'a of the Tongan Royal family responded saying, "It's ridiculous. Telling a girl she can't play rugby is a step back into middle ages. It's only fair that women have the same opportunities as men."

The ban resulted in widespread international criticism, prompting Prime Minister Akilisi Pohiva to distance himself from the decision. 

He says the ban on schoolgirls playing rugby is not government policy. 

The New Zealand Government has made no secret it disapproves. 

Labour MP, Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki says, "The message for Tongan women - this is your government, you need to come out and say what you think because in New Zealand we fought and gave women the right to vote 125 years ago and we are 100 per cent beside you."

A group of Tongan sportswomen outraged over the ban have won rare political and royal support. Source: 1 NEWS