By Fidelis Sukina – EMTV Sports, Port Moresby
Sports is a cross-cutting activity that does not discriminate race gender and ability, as long as you can play you have the opportunity to showcase your capabilities.
The Rookie Sevens concept has long been an avenue to spot emerging talent in rugby union in Port Moresby, and yesterday, two teams of hearing impaired men took to the field in rugby union, with an entertaining match that could see the rise of deaf rugby in PNG and onward into the international scene where tournaments are held around the world.
When they ran onto the field, no one knew they were hearing impaired.
It was something new for both the spectators and the players. The players always had the will to play rugby union like any other interested person in the sporting code and their dream was realised yesterday, at the Bava Park, as they played in front of a crowd of supporters.
For the crowd watching deaf people playing, was not your usual serving of Saturday rugby union, to cheer was unnoticeable by the players, the crowd instead told to wave their hands in support so the players could see their appreciation of their performance .
It was quiet on the field, both teams all hearing impaired, using their hands to talk and their eyes to listen. That’s right, sign language. They knew what they were signing and the game flowed just like how they practiced, not a word uttered by the players even the referee had to brush up on his hand signals, always done during the course of the game, but most often taken for granted by normal players – the signals were key for the deaf players.
The Rookie Sevens Tournament gave the deaf community an equal chance to be part of the sport of rugby union, and tournament Coordinator Sailosi Druma, was all smiles, at the exhibition match on Saturday.
The players are part of a huge deaf community in Papua New Guinea.
This year in Australia, in April 2018, saw the World Rugby 7’s Deaf Competition and there is a 15’s international deaf competition aswell. Druma says this exhibition match is the stepping stone for the future of deaf rugby union in PNG.