Peipi an inspiration for softball teammates

By James Perry

Nikau Peipi was born with Poland Syndrome, a birth defect affecting his arm, but is just like many other teenagers. He loves playing sport, especially softball.

The Tūhoe descendant has been in Auckland this past week competing at the National U15 softball tournament with his Marlborough team, a team he enjoys playing with.

"Good friends, and yeah they're real good to me," he says. 

Marlborough co-coach Nathan Gill says that feeling is mutual.

"We love him. Love to have him in the team, no doubt about it. He offers so much."

Poland Syndrome affects the development of the chest area and limbs and is a birth defect that affects on average 1 in 20,000 births.

Peipi has developed a unique catching and throwing technique that has seen him excel at softball. He says it came naturally to him.

"If it's like coming on the ground, I just pick it up and put it under my little arm and then grab it out with and yeah and then throw that." 

Last year Peipi was selected for the New Zealand International Softball Academy (ISA) team that competed in Australia.

"I made a lot of friends," Peipi says, 

"Most of them are at this tournament, so yeah good catching up with them, it's like real good."

Making that ISA side, Gill says is a testament to Peipi's character.

"That just shows what kind of determination he's got. He's an incredible athlete."

Gill, who has known Peipi for a long time, says the Marlborough Boys College student is an inspiration to his teammates.

"He's had to battle for everything since his birth, obviously, and it's no different when he plays for us. And he gives it one hundred percent."

One of his teammates and fellow MBC student Blake Love says Pepi's skills and determination lift the team.

"If you see him just like smack a ball, you're like 'oh I can do that too.' It kind of just lifts up everyone. He's just so good that everyone is just like 'oh I can be just as good as him.'"

Love, jokingly, says "It's kind of annoying how he can be so good, and just like how he can be better than me, even though I should technically be having an advantage on him but he just, he just beats me. I don't know how he does it, he's just really good."

Peipi puts his progress and talent down to constant practice and hard work, a message he hopes other young sportspeople can be inspired by. 

One day he hopes to earn selection to the Black Sox men's team.