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Wednesday 19th October 2016

Nuku’alofa Times - Page 24


Tongan Mote Maile’s journey is unlike any in college football

OKLAHOMA (NewsOK): Sioeli Maile spent the final day of his life pouring out his heart, leaving nothing unsaid. Cancer was eating his body like it had for nearly a decade. He had tried to stop it. He’d had surgeries. He’d had chemo. He’d even self-medicated with alcohol. Nothing worked. In late June, he knew the end was near. Everyone did. All six of his kids came home to Euless, Texas. His two daughters from California. His three sons scattered around Texas. His son playing at Oklahoma State. Each of them had time with their dad. And when it was Mote Maile’s turn, the Cowboys’ hulking defensive tackle listened to his dad talk about what he thought was important in life. Going to school, something he’d never done

Motekiai Maile

in their native Tonga. Working hard, something he’d done every day his body allowed and some it didn’t. “But you always remember where you come from,” Mote’s dad told him. “You always remember how you started. If you forget, you

will go the wrong way. “You always, always remember where you come from and how you started.” There’s no way Mote Maile could forget. Mote was born in Hihifo, a tiny seaside village on one of the dozens of islands that

comprise Tonga, a speck of a South Pacific nation between Hawaii and Australia. Mote — whose name is pronounced moe-TAY myLAY — grew up in a house night, sometimes as early as 2 a.m., going out into the Pacific Ocean and fishing with their dad. The matriarch of the family, Hauola, always made it work. She wouldn’t eat until her husband and children did, even if it meant she ended up with very little. Mote had been in school a year or so when his parents decided to move to the United States. His uncle had immigrated to Hawaii and had made it his goal to bring all of his family members out of Tonga, where opportunities are limited. “It was hard,” Mote said. Still, money was so tight when Mote started asking to play football, his mom said no. She always said it was

because she worried about him getting hurt. Mote, though, was already so far behind that he wasn’t able to graduate high school. No diploma meant no college football. Tyler Junior College was interested, but to play for the East Texas school or for anyone else, Mote had to get a GED. His family encouraged him to do just that. Go online. Take the classes. Complete the requirements. Throughout the summer, his parents, sisters and brothers kept pushing him. The day Tyler opened preseason camp, Mote got his GED. Paperwork in hand, he hightailed it two hours east and made it in time for the second practice of the day. Mote was at Trinity High School in Euless when one of his mom’s friends unwittingly spilled the beans. “You should go watch Mote play football,” she said.

“My son doesn’t play football,” Mote’s mom said. He didn’t just play. He excelled. Big and strong but extremely agile, he played defensive line and tight end, and after moving to Pittsburg, Calif., in the Bay Area before his junior season to live with his sister, he continued to improve. All-conference and all-metro honors followed. College football seemed a possibility. His family encouraged him to do just that. Before Mote’s father died June 30, he told him to remember that. Play hard. Chase dreams. Have fun. “But you remember where you come from,” he said. Mote Maile has every intention of doing just that, now and always. “Being in Tonga growing up makes you appreciate what you have now,” he said. “Be grateful for everything you have in life.”

Halaholo could make Cardiff Blues debut in Welsh derby clash

Office: Fatafehi Rd Nuku’alofa Tonga Phone: 24229 / 24401 E-mail: Cardiff Blues-bound Willis Halaholo runs through to score a try.

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CARDIFF (Walesonline): Halaholo is free to begin his Blues careers after his commitments in NZ came to end Willis Halaholo is free to begin his Cardiff Blues career and could well make his debut in next week’s Welsh derby clash with the Scarlets at the Arms Park. The centre’s commitments with Waikato are now completed, with the New Zealand province having just missed out on a place in the

quarter-finals of the Mitre 10 Cup. Despite claiming a notable victory away to Wellington in their final regular season match over the weekend, they were pipped for a last eight spot by both Counties Manukau and Tasman winning their fixtures. So Halaholo can now head for Wales and is expected to arrive in Cardiff by the end of this week. He was outstanding for the Hurricanes as they

claimed the Super Rugby title, catching the eye with his quick feet and his power in midfield. Speaking about him at the start of the season, Blues coach Danny Wilson said: “I am looking forward to getting him in the door. Born in Auckland, Halaholo played for the New Zealand Secondary Schools team and also represented Tonga at the 2009 Junior World Championship in Japan.

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