Poly Bowl All Star Thank God and late ‘Coach Tupu’

About the author:

Tina Mata'afa-Tufele is a Pasifika journalist that has been writing and covering news related to the Samoan experience for over a decade. She's written for Samoa News in American Samoa, Tuatalatala.com (covering news from Hawaii, the U.S.

  • ​​​​​​ Filifilia with his mother
    ​​​​​​ Filifilia with his mother

Eighteen-year-old Belford Viali Filifilia has been named to the Polynesian All-Star Bowl.

“More than excited, he thanked Samoa Gridiron Founder the late Agatupu “Coach Tupu” Lefao for teaching him about the game of football but first he thanked God.

“I am more than excited. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m going to use it well. The first thing I want to do is thank God for the opportunity and the talent,” Belford told Newsline Samoa.

“I started playing three years ago with Coach Tupu. He is the one who got me started when I didn’t even know about this game. Coach Tupu is the one who encouraged me to play the game. I started three years ago and when I first payed the game it was nice, fun. I chose this sport because it’s a way to a good education for me so I can provide for my family.”

Belford is from the villages of Apia and Vaimoso, currently in Year 12 at St. Joseph’s College.

When asked for his educational and football goals, not once did Belford mention a desire to play in the National Football League (NFL).

Football he sees as a way to pay for his studies and obtain a degree from a U.S. institution. His ultimate goal is to return to Samoa and care for his family.

“My first goal is that I’m going to go to Hawai’i and do good in school. I am going to get a good education and play well. When I get a scholarship, I will go to school, I will play well and then come back to Samoa. I have to provide for my family,” Belford said.

“In Samoa, economically, it’s hard. That’s why I want to come back and help and to also encourage the kids in Samoa to play the game. It’s a good game to help you provide for your family. I’m taking commerce at St. Joseph’s and I want to take commerce in Hawai’i. I want to work hard and get that degree, and come back and work for the life that my family wants. That’s why I play this game.”

He is the son of Frances Viali and Dan Viali.

“When I first played sports, I played rugby league and then 15s. I have played lots of rugby and volleyball but this is the only game I love to play now,” said Belford.

“I feel thankful. Thank you Coach Tupu for helping us for those two years, Coach Tupu always pushed us and told us this is a good way to get an education. He said ‘if you work hard in school, school will take you there.’ And even in the game. I thank them (Polynesian Football Hall of Fame Academy and Good will Mission) for giving me this opportunity.”