A 45-year-old youth football coach from Kalihi was arrested for allegedly hitting a 12 year old opposing player in the head so hard the player went "flying" to the ground. It happened during a game between the Rock Solid Crusaders and the Wahiawa Lancers of the Hawaii State Junior Prep Sports Association Football League at the Leilehua High School football field Wednesday, April 25.
Shortly after the incident Ionatana Alualu, an assistant coach with the Crusaders, was booked at the Wahiawa Police Station for investigation of third degree assault, a misdemeanor. Two hours later Alualu was released on $500 bail.
League commissioner Robert Faleafine told Hawaii News Now he immediately suspended Alualu indefinitely.
"He is no longer able to participate in any of our events, not even to coach on the sidelines or at practices. (He cannot) attend any of our games. And the reason we did that is because we felt it was necessary to send a message that the Junior Prep doesn't tolerate any type of conduct such as this," Faleafine said.
Witnesses tell Hawaii News Now the alleged assault occurred in the 4th quarter when a referee's whistle stopped play. They say it appeared two opposing players were about fight. That is when, according to witnesses, Alualu ran onto the field and decked the 12 year old Lancer player by striking him on the head. More than one person said the impact was so strong it sent the player "flying."
"I was taken by surprise by the incident itself. You can call it ugly if you want to," Faleafine said.
"I mean it hurts. It really does. I put this (league) together for kids, that's why and it hurts me to see something like this happen," he added.
But Alualu's family insisted that he never intended to hurt the player. His daughter spoke to us with her father's permission and said the boy came charging at the Crusaders player as her dad stuck out his hand to separate them.
It is possible the Rock Solid Crusaders football club will face additional sanctions.
Faleafine said, "We're having a meeting tonight with the board just to discuss further sanctions."
Alualu's criminal history will be part of the discussion. State records show he has 22 prior convictions, seven of them felonies including theft, disorderly conduct, abuse of a family member, promotion of a dangerous drug, and third degree assault. Alualu's daughter said her father has turned his life around and pointed out that the last one happened back in 2002.
Faleafine told Hawaii News Now it is up to each team's parent organization to do background checks on coaches. It's not a league responsibility. This incident, however, has become a league problem.
"I'm angry. I'm upset about it. I'm hurt by it because it is not who I am. It is not who this league is. We just have to fix it," he concluded.
Friends of the injured boy's family tell Hawaii News Now the victim is recovering from a concussion and a shoulder injury.
The junior prep league has been around for two years. Faleafine said more than 800 kids play on the league's 25 different teams. He said this is the first time anything like this has happened and he is determined to make sure it does not happen again.
The Rock Solid Crusaders football club is run by Reverend Taavao Alualu at the Towers at Kuhio Park public housing complex. Rev. Alualu is proud his program takes kids off the street and gives them something positive to do while teaching life skills such as how to be a productive member of a team. Ionatana Alualu is Rev. Alualu's brother. He is Tyson Alualu's (NFL player) uncle.