Church sports day draws Tongan youth
Several hundred Tongan young people gathered in feisty competition one Saturday early in March to play netball, touch and volleyball. The sports day was aimed at uniting the youth of the Tongan Methodist Church.
They came from 17 Tongan congregations throughout Auckland, and gathered at the Te Atatu sports field.
Young people from 17 Tongan congregations throughout Auckland met,
mingled and competed at a sports day last month.
It began with a burst of colour and noise as everyone marched around the field to the tune of a bass band.
The day was organised by a committee made up of representatives from each church.
"The sports initiative is a new one that has been put together for the young people," says event organiser Osasai Kepu.
The day was centred around their vision to unite the young people in the church and to draw them closer to God.
The church often offers programmes that are based around worship, singing and spirituality. However the youth are not always interested in such programmes.
The committee thought that sport would be one way of attracting the youth back to church. "Sport is attractive to many young people," says Kevin Metuisela of the Ellerslie Methodist Church.
The day was designed not just for athletes but for everyone who wanted to take part.
"We want to help the youth to grow. We want them to work as a team and to find fellowship with each other and with God through sport," says Osasai. "The aim was to teach them to glorify God, through their talent."
"We want to encourage the gifts that they have in sport and to utilise it in a healthy manner. We encouraged them to give it a go, even if sport was not their strength."
Though there was a competitive spirit in the field, winning was not the focus of the day. "It was an event where we all came together to have fun, win or lose," says Kevin.
A change in energy was evident by the finals. "It was exciting to see the competition and everyone putting all their effort into the game," says Kevin. "It was highly entertaining, I enjoyed watching the talent."
The day was a success with the high number of people that came. There were new faces and old faces bringing a lot of talent onto the fields.
Bonds of friendship were formed between the youth of the various churches. "I saw many of the young people interacting and getting to know each other well," says Kevin.
In light of the day’s success, Osasai hopes that the sports day can become an annual event. "I would like to see us build on this year’s success and make it bigger and better in the following years for the youth."