Visiting players were Ma’a Tanuvasa, Vai Sikahema, Reno Mahe and Mark Nua accompanied by Kevin Kaplan and Phil Hetu.
While they were here they visited several High Schools in Auckland and on Wednesday night they attended a training session with the team travelling to the DownUnder Bowl next month. They shared tips and techniques with the boys and the coaches and ran drills with the team. The session was filmed and that will be aired on TV possibly next weekend. More information will be provided on the details when they becomes available.
On Thursday night they attended the Coaches Q&A session at the Manurewa Sports Centre where they shared their views on the development of the game and the players and answered questions.
Kevin Kaplan, from Polynesian FHOF, explained one of their aims in coming to NZ is to reach out to the coaches and have them take the message to their communities that there are pathways for American Football players into the USA education system. As Vai Sikahema put it “Money comes and it goes but education is there forever”. His strong opinion, shared by Reno and Ma’a, was that there are opportunities for the Polynesian players in Auckland to follow that path and get a great education in the USA College system. The chance of becoming a NFL player is statistically greater for Polynesian players however not everyone makes that level but the education qualifications gained on that journey will provide a lasting benefit to the players and their families.
Vai, Reno and Ma’a all commented on how their pathways provided positive results for them and their families and that Auckland, with the largest population of Pacific Islanders, could be put on the radar of the college coaches and scouts.
NZAFF will be actively following up with the Polynesian FHOF with respect to partnering on delivering events into the future.