Tuilomani Defies All Odds

  It was a double treat for AFL Fiji Vonu women’s national rep Halamehi Tuilomani who was part of the team that presented their i-tatau to President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji
01 Aug 2017 11:00
Tuilomani  Defies All Odds
Deaf national AFL women's team member Alumeci Tuilomani gets seeks her interpretor while meeting the President Major Jioji Konrote during the teams I-Tatau on Monday 31st July, 2017. Photo:Jone Luvenitoga


It was a double treat for AFL Fiji Vonu women’s national rep Halamehi Tuilomani who was part of the team that presented their i-tatau to President, Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote at Borron House yesterday.

The national men’s and women’s team will leave next week Wednesday for the 2017 AFL International Cup in Melbourne, Australia from August 5-19.

The 24-year-old from Jiliva, Nakasaleka in Kadavu who is deaf and mute, has been playing AFL since 2013.

Tuilomani not only got to meet the President for the first time but she is a knight in shining armour to those with disabilities around the country who think participating in sports is not possible.

“Coming here I was so nervous, it is my first time to meet the President of Fiji and shake his hand and I feel so honoured,” Tuilomani said through her mum Mere Masi.

“The first treat for me was being in this team to represent my country and now I’m meeting the president, I feel so overjoyed.

“My presence in the national team is a message to my peers with disabilities that nothing is impossible.

“Know what you are good at and pursue it, make use of what you have- do not sleep on it but work on it.”

The inspiration to continue playing AFL and exceed in it comes from her cousin Alipate Carlile, who is a former professional Australian Rules football player who used to play for Port Adelaide.

“I love sports and rugby did not work well for me because it had so many rules but AFL seemed to work well with me because of the rules,” she said.

“There is no off-sides in AFL and the big field to run around in is something that works well for me. I decided to give AFL a go, the development officers saw me kick the ball and they thought I was good.

“I have always been inspired by my cousin Alipate (Carlile) when he comes for holidays and I watch his games that inspired me too.”

Despite the challenges, this will be her second time representing Fiji and Tuilomani has had an amazing journey and thanked AFL for treating her no different to anyone else.

“It has been a good journey for me, I’ve learnt a lot, being involved with my hearing team mates it has helped me to understand their culture and they have understood mine,” Tuilomani said.

“Being involved in the game and training has kept me on top of things and I’m able to socialise with normal people on a regular basis.

“This is something that the deaf community rarely do so I want to thank AFL for giving me this opportunity.

“When I first started it was a bit hard because of the communication but I decided to be more confident and the team members were very welcoming.

“I take my hat off to AFL Fiji for the inclusiveness they have shown but I really feel good because they know my skills and what I am capable of.

“The team mates have been learning sign language which is good but most of the time using sign language is not required, it’s just the actions that I do.”

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua




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