Signs of inclusiveness: How the NRL is helping deaf kids grow in Fiji rugby league

23 August 2018

By ABC - Margaret Burin

Girl holding a football
Australian aid-funded Pacific Sports Partnerships program is supporting all students in Fiji rugby league. Image: ABC - Margaret Burin

When Fiji NRL staff step into this classroom, talking is not allowed.

They have to sign, or at least try to, if they want to say anything.

Their sign language teacher points to the lights.

He motions down. The power is down, he is saying.

Someone checks their phone and the whole of Suva has lost power and network coverage.

They're quickly losing light, so they get straight into it.

This is the seventh sign language lesson this Australian aid-funded Pacific Sports Partnerships team have attended.

By the end of their training they hope to be competent in at least basic communication with people who are deaf.

NRL Fiji manager Ema Vereivalu hopes the training will reduce the barrier between her team and deaf children.

"We had a bit of difficulty with our program getting through to disability schools here in Suva," she says.

"To include those that are able, the deaf and children with disability is a great bonus for us, to get them to engage with our activities."

Previously the team had relied heavily on translators.

Fiji has a deaf rugby team.

The school hopes small changes like this may encourage their kids to think about a future in elite sport.

Read more here: Signs of inclusiveness: How the NRL is helping deaf kids grow in Fiji rugby league

Last Updated: 23 August 2018