Local Team Changing the Language of Football - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Local Team Changing the Language of Football

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - High school football is in full gear and we usually hear the same terms like safety blitz, screen pass, skinny post, but there's a school out in Palolo Valley that's completely changing the language of football.

That team is the Anuenue Na Koa. At first glance they may seem like any other public high school football team, until you listen to their play-calling.

The Hawaiian language was once banned in schools throughout the state but is now the core of the Na Koa.

"Our play calling is done in Hawaiian, our blitzes, stunts, blocking schemes, everything is done in Hawaiian and we do navigation for our play calling," said Kealohamakua Wengler, the teams head coach. "We do a Ha'a before we play in the game in replace of the alma mater." 

"You get amped, it's rare how people go out there and Ku'e except for like halaus but as a real Hawaiian school, the first Hawaiian football team, we might have a chance to bring our nation back," said Anuenue Tui, a senior on the team.

The Na Koa is made up of just 26-players. All of them of Hawaiian descent, and most of them play on both sides of the football. The team's first Varsity season was in 2006 where they earned just one win, which is a far cry from an OIA White division crown. But the Na Koa players know that there's more to football then statistics, and what they've accomplished so far is worth more than any title.   

"We put the language and culture first. Language can be taught in the classroom but it comes alive and it lives at home and at the beach. It's taught in the classroom but it lives outside," said Wengler.

On game day, they hope the language spreads.

"Whether we're going to kick, punt, pass or whatever, we can say it right in front of our opponents, and if they learn Hawaiian than our goal and mission is coming through to the other team," said Wengler.

Anuenue has been garnering so much attention that local production company "Paliku" is getting set to release a documentary on the team this coming winter.

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