(HONOLULU--JANUARY 8, 2015)--The Rugby Hawai'i Union says 2016 is set to be a "banner year" for the sport of rugby with the introduction of touch rugby into the Honolulu Police Department's (HPD) Police Activities League (PAL) sporting curriculum.
Rugby Union President Ma'afu Wendt announced in December that he received "official word" about PAL's decision to include touch rugby from Lt. David Kauahi, who oversees the program.
PAL is comprised of 14 officers and is supervised by two sergeants and one lieutenant, according to honolulupd.org.
"Integrity, respect, and fairness are important traits that we try to emphasize and build in the young people," states the HPD site. "These are values that will help to guide each and everyone of us not only in sports but through our everyday lives."
PAL's new touch rugby curriculum -- for boys and girls ages five to 12 -- will be available only on O'ahu for starters, said Wendt in a post on the Rugby Hawai'i Union Facebook page.
"PAL will provide uniforms, and team and player registration will be free," the Rugby Union President explains. "PAL is hoping to have clubs in the major towns. Basically there is a need for 12 players to make a team for each age group and it can be co-ed. The age brackets will be determined in a month along with other formalities when we meet to assist with the PAL program."
Wendt notes that Oahu's is the "trial run" for PAL's touch rugby league.
"Its success is imperative to opening this program on the outer islands," he pointed out.
The start of PAL's touch rugby program is tentatively slated for May or June, however, dates are still being worked out.
"I have suggested to Lt. Kauahi...maybe start their youth touch league in May or June...after the season for Hawaii Youth Rugby and Rugby Hawaii Union's 15's is completed and that will free up some coaches and players to help teach the game to the youth and the parents," Wendt said. "Parent participation is crucial in PAL, because they will be asked to referee and coach."
He is asking Hawai'i's rugby community for help.
"To Oahu's rugby community: we will need help also from former players, parents to form a small committee to assist the Police Activities League with the launch of this historical endeavor," says the HRU president. "The greatest opportunity to showcase rugby in Hawai'i is finally center stage so let's not waste it."
Wendt asks to "please kokua by passing the word around in your community about this healthy activity for the kids that's being provided by PAL and to start building clubs in your neighborhood."
He has contacted some long time rugby volunteers to help spearhead the committee to assist PAL, but emphasizes that the new curriculum needs representation from all corners of O'ahu.
MORE RUGBY HAWAI'I UNION NEWS
Wendt says "another huge boost to youth rugby in Hawai'i" is that Kamehameha Schools is entering an Under 18 team in the Hawai'i Youth Rugby O'ahu competition this season.
The Hawai'i Youth Rugby Fest 15s (or 10s) is set for March 16 and 17. There is the possibility that a game of 15s will be played on March 18.
The Aloha 7s Tournament is scheduled for March 18 and 19. Teams from Samoa and Canada are expected to participate.
Wendt says "2016 will be a banner year for youth rugby if we all work together."