Hemaloto Polovili: the key figure of Tongan Football

Football is made by various actors that together can embrace all the football community they are from. Some actors reach the privilege to be worldwide known, others can have a regional or local impact – but their importance is always there to inspire the next generations to commit to football.

This is the case of the 22-year old forward Hemaloto Polovili in his nation, Tonga. The 1,86cm player is one of the most known Tongan players and is certainly an inspiration for locals to make football a sport even more attractive for a country where rugby is the main sport.

Hema, as he is known, had a rare opportunity to take part in an international football academy in his teen years, alongside another current Tonga international Soakai Vea. The players went for trainings in New Zealand in the Asia-Pacific football academy: “It was a great foundation for me in football, it happened when I was very young. It helped me a lot in technical and tactical areas and I wish Tonga can have an academy of that quality in a near future“, says Polovili.

A imagem pode conter: 1 pessoa, praticando um esporte, atividades ao ar livre e natureza
Hemaloto (red) against Fiji in the last OFC U23 Olympic Qualifers – OFC Media

Despite being only 22 years old, Hemaloto Polovili is certainly the best gifted techincal player of Tonga – and it can be seem fairly when he plays. The forward always is the first player his teammates are looking for when they recover the possesion of the ball.

Hemaloto already played eight times for Tonga senior national football teams, scoring just once – in the 2017 Pacific Mini Games against Tuvalu. The player also is capped seven times for U17 national team, two for the U20 national team and four for the U23 national team – scoring a total of nine goals for Tonga in youth teams he played.

It is not only football that Hemaloto is commited; he recently played in the first ever Tonga international competition in Futsal in the OFC Futsal Nations Cup held in New Caledonia, where his team faced the powerhouse Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tahiti. “It was a big challenge to be the first Tonga team to play an overseas tournament“, said the player.

Hemaloto Polovili goal against Papua New Guinea in OFC Olympic Qualifiers

The player, that is coached by his father Timote Moleni in the most importnat football club of Tonga Veitongo FC, usually also take part in the OFC Champions League preliminary competitions, but could not still go through the qualifiers and advance to the group stage.

In the 2019 edition of the OFC Champions League, Hemaloto represented Lotoha’apai United in the preliminary stage played in Cook Islands and could show his skills scoring for the team in all the three matches he played. He scored an magnificent goal against Pago Youth in his first game of the 2019 OCL qualifiers.

A imagem pode conter: 2 pessoas, pessoas sorrindo, atividades ao ar livre
Hemaloto Polovili (left) celebrating his goal at OFC U23 Olympic Qualifiers – OFC Media

Hema will be once again playing the OFC Champions League preliminarly round in 2020, this time representing his side Veitongo FC. Hemaloto helped his team to end the Tonga Premier League unbeatean – 21 wins in 21 matches – to be crowned champions of the Tongan football top-tier. To add more honours to Hemaloto career, the player was the top goalscorers of the league.

Hemaloto is certainly an inspiration for the upcoming footballers in his country and we expect that Tonga can provide good training for the young generation to produce more players with the quality of their key man.

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