At just 16 years of age, Tuhua Taikato-Litz is the youngest player in the New Zealand Deaf Basketball team. Not only that, he is also the team’s new vice-captain.
The Cambridge student’s selection was announced last week after trials for the open men’s team.
“I was so happy, I just wanted to tell my family because I knew they’d be so proud of me,” he said.
Tuhua has played for the St Peter’s senior premier boys’ team for the past two years.
The new team will present a bit of a challenge for Tuhua because not only will he have to work with new players, he also needs to become fluent in sign language. He started learning sign language when he was five, but stopped three years later because his hearing aids allow him to hear well.
“Communicating with people will be a bit hard, but I’m going to learn. My coach doesn’t speak sign, so he can talk to me, but there’s also a translator who can translate for other people in the team,” he said.
“Off the court, it will be okay, but in the game, I’ll have to really focus and learn people’s expressions and what they mean.”
Over the next few weeks, Tuhua will meet his other team members. They will then begin training for the Asia Pacific Deaf Games in November in Hong Kong.
Tuhua is big on teamwork and wants to help the Black Thunders win every game possible. Even if they lose some, he will make sure the players keep their heads up and stay focused.