Rugby: Sunwolves’ diversity a strength: Kumate

The Sunwolves (in red) will play the Cell C Sharks at the Singapore Sports Hub on Feb 16. They will return for their second game, against the Emirates Lions, on March 23 at the same venue. They played only one match here last year, beating South Afri
The Sunwolves (in red) will play the Cell C Sharks at the Singapore Sports Hub on Feb 16. They will return for their second game, against the Emirates Lions, on March 23 at the same venue. They played only one match here last year, beating South African team Bulls 42-37.PHOTO COURTESY OF SINGAPORE SPORTS HUB

Manager says team can draw on the best from the squad's various cultures, backgrounds

Super Rugby team HITO-Communications Sunwolves have two homes and eight nationalities in their squad.

The Japan-based team, who have also called the National Stadium in Kallang home since 2017, are made up of players from Japan, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Fiji, Tonga, Georgia and South Korea.

Having this level of diversity can pose many challenges, such as language and cultural barriers, but Sunwolves team manager James Kumate insists that it is one of his team's strengths.

"Communication is an ongoing challenge as is understanding cultural processes and thought," he conceded to the Sunday Times.

"However, it is also one of our major strengths as we are forced to become world-class in how we communicate, connect and review so that we all have clarity."

Being a multi-cultural team also allows the Sunwolves to draw on the best from the various cultures, ways of thinking and rugby backgrounds to make an "exciting brand of rugby" on the field.

ALL FOR ONE

Off the field, it means we become a tight-knit group as we build our culture around the only common thing that binds us all - the Sunwolves.

JAMES KUMATE, team manager of the Sunwolves, on his multi-cultural side drawing the best from various cultures.

"Off the field, it means we become a tight-knit group as we build our culture around the only common thing that binds us all - the Sunwolves," he added.

"Our culture is something extremely unique and able to transcend differences."

The Sunwolves cope with the challenges by having bilingual staff like Kumate and a translator to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The team also conduct one-to-one meetings with the players to clarify doubts.

Kumate added that the team have a strong purpose and clear values that everyone contributes to.

"The more involved you are in the building process, the more invested you are (in the team)," he said. "Everyone in the organisation has made sacrifices and because of that, our desire to make this a successful team burns stronger."

The Sunwolves also travel extensively as many of their games are played internationally. The team acclimatise to the different environments by being out in the sun and through maintaining a positive mindset.

"We are a team that want to be unique and innovative in what we do and how we do it. We are who we are and our desire is to make this team, and everything it stands for, a lasting success," said Kumate.

The Sunwolves open their season on Feb 16 at the Singapore Sports Hub against the Cell C Sharks and will return for their second game here on March 23, when they will face the Emirates Lions.

Last year, they won their lone game in Singapore, beating South African team Bulls 42-37.

• Tickets ($15-$170) are on sale at sportshub.com.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 03, 2019, with the headline 'Sunwolves’ diversity a strength: Kumate'. Print Edition | Subscribe