August 19, 2019

Tonga CEO for Health Dr. Siale ‘Akau’ola receiving WHO award in Tahiti

Tonga Table Tennis Federation recently won the prestigious World Health Organisation (WHO) Healthy Islands Best Practice Recognition Award.

WHO works with member countries and partner organisations to revitalise the ‘Healthy Islands’ concept and support project and programme planning, implementation and evaluation for the improvement of health and quality of life of Pacific Islanders. WHO recognises outstanding work being carried out by health and community leaders to achieve the vision of ‘Healthy Islands’.

This award recognises the growing sport of Table Tennis in Tonga and how it has been used to promote and protect the health of its members including people with disabilities. The ’Smash Down Barriers with Table Tennis’ (SDB) program embodies all the aspects of the health initiative. The Australian Government through the Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP) supports sports development in the Pacific and work with the Continental Federation ITTF-Oceania to assist in building the capacity of Pacific Table Tennis Federations (PTTFs)  to conduct quality sport development programs. Through the generous support from the Australian Government, ITTF-Oceania has been able to develop and implement the Smash Down Barriers Table Tennis Disability Program in a number of Pacific Islands.

The Smash Down Barriers program is an inclusive grassroots table tennis program that aims to create opportunities and increase the quality of life for people with a disability through active participation in table tennis, and also works to change community perceptions of disability. This program has been instrumental in building the ranks of para table tennis in the Pacific. An estimated 85 per cent of players in the region discovered the sport through the program, and many have gone on to represent their country In Tonga the SDB program currently runs weekly activities at 5 different organisations for people with disabilities these include; Mango Tree Centre, Alonga Centre, OTA Centre, Vaiola Hospital and Ngele’ia Centre.

The award was received by Tonga CEO for Health Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola at the awards ceremony on 8th August in Tahiti and a hand-over occurred to Tonga Table Tennis Federation on 13th August.

This is the second time Tonga has won the award with Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola elated at this outcome.

“I was so proud to be at the receiving end for the second time, this time around with Tonga Table Tennis Federation.”

Tonga Table Tennis Federation receiving WHO Award from Tonga CEO for Health Dr Siale ‘Akau’ola

A USD$10,000.00 is also awarded to Tonga Table Tennis Federation to strengthen and enhance its current activities. Tonga Table Tennis Federation president Hasiloni Fungavai is excited for the future of this great program.

“It is an honour for Tonga Table Tennis Federation to receive this award, as we have been working hard to deliver and improve the lives of people living with disability through the Smash Down Barriers Table Tennis program. The award is nice recognition for the program’s success to date but will also enable us to expand the program in the near future. I would like to thank the Australian Government PSP program and ITTF-Oceania for their support with this project.”