PALOLO VALLEY (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite being forced to spend a second straight Saturday on the sideline this week because of injuries, members of the Anuenue football team say they're continuing to practice and prepare for the better--and healthier--days ahead.
With six players on the injured list and just 16 remaining on the regular season roster, head coach Keli'i Pio Adams said Thursday that fielding a team this weekend against Kaiser would be too significant of a health risk for his remaining players. Anuenue will forfeit for a second consecutive week, dropping Na Koa's record to 0-3 after a season-opening loss to Saint Francis.
Despite the early season struggles, Anuenue's players and coaching staff remained positive at practice on Thursday, preaching a mission they say is more important than football: encouraging the spread of the Hawaiian language.
"Us being able to perpetuate Olelo Hawaii on the practice field and in games is a win for us," said coach Keli'i Pio Adams. Anuenue conducts practices and calls plays using Olelo Hawaii, or Native Hawaiian, similarly to the way classes are taught during the day at the Hawaiian immersion school.
"The team, and all the parents know, the team was made to perpetuate Hawaiian language on the football field," Adams said. "It added a different atmosphere, instead of just learning the language in the classroom."
Adams is far from the only one who recognizes the value of that mission.
"It's very important to us," said Kuhio Ka'aekuahiwi, a two-way player with Na Koa. "We're out here trying to build (the Native Hawaiian language) up to show other teams that we're trying to keep it going. When they see that, hopefully they want to go and speak Olelo Hawaii."
Still, Adams, a teacher at the school, hopes his team will be able to accomplish more before the season's end.
"Of course we want to be able to compete," Adams said. "We want to win games, we want to try our best, we want to do our best... I guess by us just sticking to our foundation, we're gonna get that one day."
Anuenue's next opportunity to play, pending injuries, is August 29, 2015, against Kalaheo.