Lifetime ban for coach in alleged assault of 12-year-old player

An assistant coach for a Kalihi youth team has been permanently prohibited from participating in an island wide football league on Oahu.

The Hawaii State Jr. Prep Sports Association Football League's board of directors voted to ban Ionatana Alualu, 45, from ever coaching in the league again.

Alualu was arrested and charged with third degree assault, a misdemeanor, for allegedly striking a 12-year old on the opposing team during the fourth quarter of a game at Leilehua High School Wednesday, April 25. He was released on $500 bail after spending almost two hours behind bars at the Wahiawa Police Station.

Several witnesses have described the incident to Hawaii News Now. Some say from their vantage point it appeared Alualu hit the player in the head with his fist. Others say from where they sat it appeared Alualu delivered a vicious tackle. All agree the boy hit the ground violently. A week later the boy's family said he is still recovering from a concussion.

The league's rules and regulations state member organizations "are required to perform background checks on all their coaches." The rules also state each organization must "submit an affidavit that all background checks have been completed."

That process failed to identify Alualu, who has 22 prior criminal convictions, as potential trouble. So the league board has formed a new Safety Committee. That committee will establish guidelines the organizations must use in screening coaches.

The board considered, but decided against kicking the Rock Sold Crusaders out of the league.

Barry Ventura, President of the Wahiawa Lancers, said, "We shouldn't punish the kids for someone else's actions."

Two of Alualu's children have told Hawaii News Now the incident was an accident.  They explained their father did not strike the player, but the player ran into Alualu while he was trying to break up an altercation on the field.

Alualu's brother Tupu Alualu issued an apology to the league and the Wahiawa Lancer club during the board meeting.


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