For the first time, hearing and hearing impaired individuals participated together in a PNG Rugby Union’s Training & Education Program on Saturday 15 May 2021.
The First Aid in Rugby (FAIR) course, included an opportunity to share ways to improve Deaf Rugby in the region and present the opportunities those with hearing impairments have to participate as administrators, match and team officials, and volunteers at all tournaments and competitions.
“The delivery of this FAIR course to our Deaf Rugby population is part of rugby's inclusive player welfare objectives and grateful to PNG for leading the way,” said Oceania Rugby Regional Training Manager Talemo Waqa.
The course was facilitated for the first time by two women. PNGRU FAIR Educator Hendriella Vilosi delivered the course and was assisted by sign language interpreter, Heidi Otiwani.
National Development Manager, Ian Liveras and Training & Education Coordinator, Sailosi Druma, expressed commitment normalising and celebrating the participation of women and girls and hearing-impaired persons in rugby, and “cease the practice of conducting separate courses for each group.”
“The combined courses will drive the message that rugby is a sport for all, conducted in environments that are inclusive, safe and supportive,” Mr Druma added.
“Rugby will achieve meaningful outcomes, that provide an opportunity for ‘win-win’ situations for all our stakeholders.”
However, one barrier for PNGRU Educators has been the predominate use of English in delivering courses.
During May’s FAIR course, Ms Vilosi began to communicate using a combination of English & Pidgin, allowing participants fully grasp what was being taught, and allowed interpreter Ms Otiwani was to better translate information to those hearing impairments.
“Papua New Guineans are multi-lingual, we communicate in English, Pidgin & Motu plus the languages of our parents,” said Mr Liveras.
“Hendirella’s use of English & Pidgin during the course, highlighted the importance of communicating in a language that our people understand.”
Mr Liveras committed to the use of Pidgin and Motu in future sessions, with interpreters of local dialects used as needed, stating that “language must no longer be a barrier to participate in rugby.”
The feedback received following the successful FAIR course has resulted in a major policy shift in the Training & Education Programs for the PNGRU, with non-segregated courses and inclusive workshops for all participants, regardless to gender, language or impairments.
More information about all rugby Training & Education programmes in the Oceania region can be found here.