Team to create history in first ever deaf rugby sevens tournament

A team will create history when it represents Samoa in the first ever deaf rugby sevens tournament.

The 2019 Oceania Rugby Sevens Championship in Fiji from November 7-9 will for the first time feature a deaf tournament.

The deaf team’s head coach, Fui Ponifasio Vasa, said Nuanua O'Le Alofa (NOLA) and the Deaf Association Samoa have put a team together for the tournament.

“This deaf rugby team was a request from the N.O.L.A and the Deaf Association to the Marist rugby club if we can train them using our field, and to us without knowing there is a tournament,” he said. 

The deaf team were on the hunt for coaches to assist the boys with their training, which saw Vasa and John Lemisio volunteering their services. 

“But after weeks of training them and then they informed us (coaches) about a tournament in Fiji, Oceania  deaf tournament with teams from Japan, Papua New Guinea, Australia and Fiji taking part in it.”

The team’s training regime was previously three days a week, which Vasa said has now been increased to four days a week.

While the participation of the deaf sevens team in the Oceania deaf rugby tournament is historical, the head coach said one of the goals of the Marist Club is to use sports such as rugby to create equal opportunities for everyone, including those with a disability. 

The boys with the disability are also enjoying their training while learning rugby skills.

Vasa said Fiji as the host of the tournament will cover their accommodation but the team has to pay for other expenses such as return airfares to Fiji. 

“We have received a donation of rugby boots from a company from New Zealand, a former All Blacks rugby player, and also the Marist club is helping them,” he added.  

And while communication can be a challenge, Vasa said coaching the boys has enabled me to learn more about them. 

The 12-member team of players and management officials will leave Samoa for Fiji on November 3. 

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