Football team brings culture to every game


POSTED: Friday, September 04, 2009

Mahalo for the wonderful article by Dave Reardon about the Anuenue football team in last Friday's sports section (”;Hope anew,”; Star-Bulletin, Aug. 28). My nephew, head coach Kealohamakua Wengler, called me early that morning and excitedly alerted me to the coverage of our team. We are humbled by your kind words.

We strive to be a football team that practices our culture. For example, before we played Kamehameha on Maui, our team lined up across the field and greeted them with aloha and a chant about Palolo, where our school is, as we walked to the center of the field. Our alaka'i (team captains) then proceeded to their sideline with gifts. It is part of our culture that when Hawaiians visit each other, they take a little something.

(Some weeks prior to this, I took Kealoha and some of the players up into Wailupe Valley where we cut guava branches to make la'au lomilomi (massage sticks) which, at one time, you could find in every Hawaiian house. These were used in times of old to massage the back and neck.)

Our captains and Kealoha presented 10 lomilomi sticks to the Kamehameha head coach, Leo Delatores, and captains along with a pu'olo ki (ti leaf bundle) containing pa'akai (salt), 'awa and huli (taro tops for planting) and did the traditional honi (touching of noses). The captains then backed up to join the rest of the team and did Ku'i Moloka'i, a very old and vigorous Hawaiian male dance. In fact, Anuenue is the only team in Hawaii that does a real Hawaiian dance. Hawaiians do not do hakas, as our Maori cousins do. Our dance is a ha'a.

(A couple of years ago, some of the UH football team players visited Anuenue and witnessed this just before doing their “;haka.”; The folks who were there said there was a clear distinction between something old and very real versus a modern creation.)

After the national anthem was played, our team sang all the verses of “;Hawai'i Pono'i.”;

After the game, Kamehameha sang its alma mater and when it was our turn, our boys did a mahalo chant to the Kamehameha folks for graciously hosting us on their campus.

After we showered, we went to their dining hall, where the Kamehameha team parents had prepared a potluck post-game dinner. We were greeted with aloha, and a nice time was had by all.

Again, a sincere mahalo on behalf of Kealohamakua, coaches Gary Loo, Neil Ane, Reid Kawano, Wela Wahilani, Kaneala Oana and the entire team, for the article. It means a lot to all of us.


La'akea Suganuma is an 'olohe lua aiwaiwa, a master practitioner of lua, an ancient Hawaiian martial arts.