In order to teach people about Polynesian culture, the Polynesian Bowl was introduced in 2017, a football game where the nation’s top high school football players compete against each other. The second Polynesian Bowl was held on Jan. 20 at the Aloha Stadium and featured three seniors from MHS’s Varsity football team: Offensive Lineman Scottie Agasiva, Offensive Lineman Noah Williams and Running Back Jalen Tuivaiave-Olomua. Hawaii is a state known for its diversity and camaraderie, making it home to people of various cultures, which is what the Polynesian Bowl focuses on.
“My race, Hawaiian, means a lot to me. My first language was Hawaiian and I was raised through the Hawaiian way, living off the land and stuff like that. I attended many Hawaiian programs that Kamehameha schools provided, and having the Polynesian Bowl, not only just having it made, but having it here on the island is truly a blessing. People that are not Polynesian, they’ll be able to come down here and see what Hawaii is, learn more about the culture,” said Williams.
Although it is called the Polynesian Bowl, participating athletes are not required to be of Polynesian descent; the program is open to players of any race or culture. “We open the door to a lot of other ethnicities, and main thing is that we want to spread our culture to a lot of the kids who’ve never been introduced to the Polynesian culture, and just be able to network with kids that they might be playing with sometime after high school. It’s like a reward for their hard work that they put in through pretty much their four years of high school,” said Polynesian Bowl Co-Founder and MHS Assistant Varsity Football Coach Ma a Tanuvasa. Williams added, “That’s one of the things I was very happy to hear, like not only is it just Polynesians but other races. I feel it’s good because they’ll learn more about not just the Polynesian race but vice versa, we’ll also learn more about their race.”
The Polynesian Bowl program gathers a total of 100 student athletes from around the nation, consisting of at least 30 from Hawaii, and 70 from other states. “Being able to play in the Polynesian Bowl is really an honor, because not everybody gets to be in it. It just really is overwhelming, it’s truly a blessing and you just gotta make the most of all of it,” said Williams. “My first reaction was like, ‘Whoa.’ I was showing my dad, it was blowing up on social media and I was like ‘Dad, Momma, we made it.’” Tanuvasa added, “I was just full of joy knowing that three of our kids from Mililani were able to get in, and now they get to compete and see how well they do against the rest of the other student athletes from across the country. Hopefully it opens up a lot of doors as far as scholarship offers from colleges after this game.”
The athletes have put a lot of work into their training, making the invitation all the more special. “You gotta be mentally strong. I feel it’s good to still be able to go to school, have your brain ready for the plays and everything. I’ve been training after school and stuff like that, keep your body healthy, eating right, make sure your body has enough energy to sustain you throughout the game,” said Williams. “I just want to stay humble. I really put the work in and the outcome will show and I’m very grateful.” Agasiva added, “This means the most to me because I get the chance to showcase my talents and represent my family name.”
For a week before the game, players spend time with one another to create bonds and make friendships. “They’re all going to be in the same hotel. We got a week-long event that they’re going to be doing just to be able to network, know each other, create friendships. I think that’s the best thing, it’s able for us to pass the word on through these kids as far as the great time they’ve had and hopefully the kids will want to experience that bowl game next year,” said Tanuvasa. “We want these kids to compete during the game but before that is enjoy themselves. Some of these kids go back to the states, and they’ll be able to say, ‘I had a great time in Hawaii, I really want to come back.’” Williams added, “I’m just going to live it in the moment and enjoy every second of it. I just gotta ball out, make memories, make friends, just make connections with other people that you’ve never met.”
After the Polynesian Bowl game, the students plan on finishing their final semester of high school, and possibly continuing football in college.