Tama tackles his hearing loss

1 July 2015

Tama Albert may have a hearing impairment but that hasn’t stopped this keen rugby player from scoring a black jersey.

The 26- year old Tokoroa man proudly wore his Deaf Blacks jersey in his first match for the team in June.

The 92kg centre played in the test game against the Australia Deaf Rugby Union known as the Silent Knights in Christchurch.

Though the team came away defeated, it will travel to Tokyo at the end of the year and compete against Japan’s Deaf Rugby team and then the deaf rugby world cup in Argentina next year.

Training with the local league club, Tokoroa Pacific Sharks, as well as in his own time, he’s put every ounce of effort into getting to the top.

‘‘I was happy as all my trainings have paid off, especially the Sharkies’ pre-season trainings. It helped me get up there and do well in the National Deaf Rugby Tournament.’’

Albert’s had it tough since he aged about 6 after an accident on his bicycle when he split his head open and the world started to go ‘‘silent’’.

Some of his peers didn’t make his childhood any easier either, he said.

‘‘[I was] getting laughed at because I couldn’t hear in class or in teams or anywhere. Being bullied was another one, too.’’

But rugby ran in the family, and he was never one to turn down a game of backyard rugby.

His first time in a rugby team was playing for Tokoroa High School under-14s as a winger.

‘‘I only knew how to just run for the try line because I was a winger, that’s all I knew how to play.’’

However, any dreams of making it outside of his year were dampened by lack of confidence. ‘‘Due to my hearTama Albert’s skills earnt him a spot on the Deaf Blacks squad to play a test against Australia’s Silent Knights. ing disability I never knew I would be able to make it up there in what I love.’’

It was thanks to the support of his brother Horizon Albert, otherwise known as ‘‘Hizzy’’, that he pushed those doubts aside.

Hizzy encouraged Albert to join him in the first XV as a centre. Since then he’s managed to be on the same team as his brother, which has its benefits.

‘‘He’s the only person who I could understand in the game when we communicate in sports.’’

Being in the Deaf Blacks also meant a change in the way information is passed on. The players used sign language, he said, and the referees held up a flag for kick-off as well as whistling for those who have half-hearing like Albert.

It’s been a tough journey, but he’s certainly proven anything is possible.

‘‘If you have a dream . . . start going hard out to get there, no matter what others do or say about your disabilities never let nobody tell you you can’t do this.’’

- South Waikato News

Deaf Blacks model