SPORTS

Poni Playing To Be Normal

Ponijese Ravouvou is a student of Suva Special who suffers from autism* School and describes his passion for table tennis as fun and good. His mum Diunisi Lewatu said bringing
09 Jan 2017 11:00
Poni Playing To Be Normal
Fiji Para table tennis team.Photo:Vilimoni Vaganalau.

Ponijese Ravouvou is a student of Suva Special who suffers from autism* School and describes his passion for table tennis as fun and good.

His mum Diunisi Lewatu said bringing Poni, 15, to play table tennis was a way for him to interact with normal children.

“He started playing the sport when he was 13 years and it was the same time I started working for Fiji Table Tennis,”Lewatu said

“I started as a cleaner and I attended all the workshops like umpiring, coaching especially for athletes with disability and that’s how I started bringing him to train because I know he is a special child.

“In table tennis they have their classes and Poni is in Class 11 and has been training for the past two years.

“He has been improving but the only problem he has no one else like him playing this sport and that is why Fiji Table Tennis president Anthony Ho is training him for a big competition in New York this year.

“As a mum I feel happy to see him play because they are always left out. I’ve five children and he is the oldest. My other four children are all normal and I want him to socialise and its quiet a relief for him interacting with normal children.  Everyone likes to be around him because he can talk and he can also help other children so that’s what special about him,” Lewatu said

He has been attending clinics regularly and has been part of their atoday.

Fiji Table Tennis is inviting more young people like Poni to attend clinics to enable them to interact with others, have fun and to improve their motor skills.

According to Ho, the association’s development officers have been conducting outreach clinics at Hilton Special School, Early Intervention, Suva Special, Nausori Special School, FNCDP, Marist Champagnat where many children like Poni have been introduced to table tennis.

“We would like their parents to bring their children to our centres,”Ho said.

“The table tennis clinic will be followed by a one day Special Olympic Table Tennis event next week for U16 boys and girls as part of the 2017 Fiji Open & Para Open Championships.”

* Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life.[ These signs often develop gradually, though some children with autism reach their developmental milestones at a normal pace and then regress.[2] The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent in early childhood, typically before age three. Edited by Osea Bola

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