Tonga is a kingdom in the South Pacific made up of 177 islands of which only 36 are inhabited by just over 106,000 people. With rugby being the most traditional sport, football has always taken a back seat -making it difficulty of revealing great talent in the sport.
The scenario has been changing a bit and Laveni Vaka is an excelent example of this. The 21-year-old defender plays college football in the United States and represented Tonga at the OFC Women’s Nations Cup in Fiji last July.
In the quarterfinals she was named the best player of the match against Papua New Guinea after providing two assists for her twin-sister Daviana to score and then making a beautiful move for Jazmine Loto’aniu to score the second goal. Tonga eventually went out on penalty shootout after a 3-3 draw after extra time, with Laveni converting her spot-kick – but the defeat did not harm her great performance in the match and in the tournament.
After representing Tonga for the second time in the Nations Cup, Laveni Vaka returned to the US for the season with BYU Soccer where her team finished the year with 11 wins, three losses and seven draws – BYU Soccer was eliminated by the UNC Tar Heels in the NCAA regional semifinal after a 3-2 loss.
Laveni played all 21 games for BYU in the season tallying 1,834 minutes and one assist. At the end of the season she was named to the NCAA All-West Region First Team and the All-WCC First Team – Laveni even took the WCC 2022 Defender of the Year award!
The Oceania Football Center congratulates Laveni Vaka for her achievements in 2022! It is expected she will represent Tonga again at the Pacific Games in Honiara this year.