SOCCER FIELDS NAMED AFTER
JUSTIN “BUDDY” PERRY IN KEAʻAU, PUNA
On November 29, the Nā Hoa O Puna Soccer Club held a blessing ceremony for the newly named, Buddy Perry Soccer Fields, at Herbert Shipman Park in Keaʻau, Puna. On November 16, the County of Hawaiʻi Council adopted the fields’ name in honor of the late Justin Masayoshi “Buddy” Perry, by way of a bill introduced by Councilman, Daniel Paleka, Jr. Perry’s soccer club, Nā Hoa O Puna, requested the Council’s action after Perry’s passing on December 13, 2015.
Perry was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis)—more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—in 2009. In the same year, Perry founded Nā Hoa O Puna, where he served as President, Director of Coaching, and mentor for over 100 players, including their parents, coaches, administrators, and board of directors. Under Buddy’s leadership, the club established the Nā Hoa Cup and Nā Hoa O Puna Scholarship—for college-bound seniors. The bill’s adoption was supported by County of Hawaiʻi Mayor, Billy Kenoi, the park’s landowners—the W. H. Shipman ʻohana—and countless community members who testified at the legislative sessions in Hilo and in Kona; and unanimously passed by the members of Hawaiʻi Council.
At the November 2 hearing in Hilo, Nā Hoa O Puna Coach, and HSF Regional Director, Rico Ferari, stated that according to Buddy, “education is priority; your community is priority.” Nā Hoa O Puna Board Member and Club Registrar, Pelehonuamea Harman, called the County’s action “a fitting tribute to an incredible individual who gave selflessly of his time, expertise, and aloha to the youth of Hawaiʻi [island], and to the Big Island soccer community.” Hawaii Soccer Federation President and Chief Executive Officer, Vernon Kapuaʻala, recalls growing up as a youth soccer player—Upcountry on Maui—where Kapuaʻala was trained and coached alongside Buddy and his brother—by Buddy’s father, Eugene Perry. “We all played in MYSO [the Maui Youth Soccer Organization]—currently known as HSF. Soccer was one of those things that brought the entire island together. I believe it was this upbringing and collective mindset that lead Buddy to form Nā Hoa O Puna on the Big Island and on Maui. Buddy was fiercely competitive as well, and through his coaching and influence, we’ve consistently seen Nā Hoa O Puna players being selected as top talent to participate in HSF’s regional and national identification programs [pdp and id²]. Buddy’s son [Kahakuwaipōlani Tolentino-Perry] was one of HSF’s inaugural pdp selections.”
Hawaiʻi Mayor, Billy Kenoi, whose children were Nā Hoa O Puna players, stated that Coach Buddy didn’t “just coach kids the fundamentals of sport. I think and believe that my children—and all the kids in Puna who were privileged to go to Nā Hoa—grew up feeling humbled; feeling strong. They were taught resilience; they were taught courage; they were taught how to win; and they were taught how to lose. But they were taught from the heart. To name Shipman Park after Coach Buddy is an appropriate name for a beautiful man.”
Videos by Big Island Video News; Photos by HSF and Na Hoa O Puna.
To donate to the Nā Hoa O Puna (Buddy Perry) Scholarship Fund, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For information regarding the Hawaii Soccer Federation, contact Vernon Kapuaʻala at email@example.com or (808) 442-2937; or visit the Hawaii Soccer Federation website at www.hawaiisoccerfederation.org.