Haka draws penalties, restrictions from OAL

Haka draws penalties, restrictions from OAL

he haka can’t be done at away games. It can’t be done before the football game or at halftime. It can’t be done towards the opponents. And it can’t be done with gestures that mimic the slashing of a throat.

That’s the decision of Russell White, the new commissioner of the Oakland Athletic League, regarding the use of the Polynesian war dance to pump up football players.

He said that football players can do the haka at the end of the game, towards their own fans and on their home field. It must be done only in the end zone, he said.

“It belongs on cultural day, not for a football game,” said White.

White said that he had never done the haka while he was a player, from the time he was six until he played professionally.

The controversy began after an incident with the haka before the Tigers football game at McClymonds High School on Nov. 10.

During that game, sophomore player Mouni Pahulu made a change to the normal haka. Instead of drawing his arm across his chest as he usually does, he made a gesture as if he were slashing his throat.

A referee saw that gesture and warned Pahulu that he would be ejected if he committed any fouls during the game.

On the kickoff, Pahulu did commit a foul and was ejected. His foul was nothing that usually gets a player ejected.

The Tigers did not do the haka for the final two games of the season.

Terry Hendrix, head coach of the Tigers, said he did not want to talk to the Green & Gold newspaper about the haka or the controversy.

The loss of the haka dance has the potential for a loss of confidence and energy in the team to play in the game, some players say. Many Fremont players are Polynesian, but even those who are not have grown to love the haka.

“I feel like they’re taking away our motivation. I like doing the haka a lot,” said freshman safety Raul Torres.

With the haka, players feel connected and get pumped up for games.

“We do the haka because it gives us confidence to play in the game,” said junior football player Fehoko Faotusia.

Senior captain Bishope Apodaca agrees.

“We love doing the haka, and I hope we can continue doing it,” said Apodaca.