Marist levels field with disability inclusion

The Marist Rugby Club, in its mission to promote fellowship through sport, is opening its ranks to players with disabilities including the Deaf Association of Samoa, who are already producing some potential play-makers.

The President of the Club, Faimalomatumua Matthew Lemisio, said the introduction of playing sessions and coaching for deaf players was driven by Marist returning to its first principles. 

“We went back to the [foundation] and it was a sports club, so it came to our mind that it [should] not only [be about] rugby but also other sports,” he said. 

And so far, the interest has only centred on the football field, but the Club hopes to expand its offerings into a range of other sports soon. 

As it happened, the Deaf Association of Samoa were seeking a field to train on at the same time. 

“So I said: 'OK, come and train' and then they turned up and they had no [rugby] equipment [...or] a coach,” he said. 

Faimalomatumua said they donated some rugby equipment and assigned a club member to help with coaching. 

“We wanted people to come in the Marist environment and feel a sense belonging. We also want them to find their potential, which is why we are opened to anyone,” he added.

The President said anyone who shares the objective of the Club to promote sports and fellowship is welcome. 

Faimalomatumua said after a few weeks, the Club's coach Tausa Faamaooni Lalomilo has identified some members of the deaf team with enough talent to play for Marist's main XV. 

“We are trying to bring them into sports like soccer, netball, boxing and other sports, it's not just rugby,” he added. 

Faimalo told this newspaper that they are working with the Deaf Association Samoa and the Nuanua O'Le Alofa to help these people to overcome hurdles which cause them not be part of sports. 

Josefa Soko Vagone, who is the President of the Deaf Association, spoke through sign language to express his gratitude to the Marist Club President and the members for their support in terms of equipment, facilities and coaching. 

More importantly he thanked them for giving them a chance for letting members believe they can do anything. 

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