Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei, current Defensive Tackle for the Washington State Cougars and a former member of Gridiron Queensland & the Gold Coast Stingrays, has been invited to play in the 2020 Hula Bowl to be held at Aloha Stadium, Hawaii.
New Zealand born Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei was discovered by Director of Football Operations for Oceania, Paul Manera, in 2014 while he was participating in the Gridiron Australia Future Stars Program, an initiative led by former Junior Australian Outback Head Coach Peter Tos Snr.
When asked about Misiona’s invitation to the Hula Bowl Coach Tos stated… “Misiona Aiolupotea-Pei caught the eye of coaches and players alike when he arrived at the Australian Future Stars Camp in 2014. Like many Australian players, he displayed a high level of athleticism, but the question was, how would he acclimatize to the sport of American Football played at the higher levels. The answer to this is evident in his invitation to play in the Hula Bowl. Congratulations to Misiona on his selection and Future Stars Program is proud to have been a part of Misiona’s journey.”
The Future Stars Team competed at the annual Down Under Bowl Tournament where Misiona was named the tournament’s hardest hitter and was nicknamed “The Missile” by current UC Davis Head Coach, Dan Hawkins who together with Cody Hawkins (assistant coach at UC Davis) were invited by Paul Manera to be guest coaches for the Australian Future Stars.
Dan Hawkins stated that he is “Really excited for Misi, (he is) such a great kid with tremendous potential. He has a great motor and quite an athlete, he is new to football and will only continue to get better!”
During the 2014 Future Stars Camp, a seminar was held to discuss the different pathways to play college football after which Misiona pursued his dream to play college football. He went on to play Junior College Football for Riverside Community College in California and was named to second-team All-Southern California Football Association Honours before being offered a scholarship to play for the Washington State Cougars.
The dream continues for Misiona who now has the chance to catch the eye of NFL, CFL and XFL Scouts. Today he commented “To be able to play in a bowl game of this calibre… is amazing, and (in addition) you have Ex-NFL coaches leading the teams. This will be a phenomenal opportunity for all of us to compete against other top prospects from around the world.”
The Hula Bowl is an independently administered post-season invitational college football game held annually in Hawaii, usually in January.
The game was first played from 1947 to 2008 in the Halawa district of Honolulu before being discontinued. At one point it was the longest-running sporting event in Hawaii, it had been considered a premier venue to launch professional careers in the National Football League (NFL).
On October 29, 2019, it was announced that the game will be revived for 2020 and will be played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii on the 26th January 2020.
Following this strongly supported return, the game will be featured in January each year on the island of Oahu.
In 2020, the game Hula Bowl will include NCAA college football players from all divisions, along with international players from Japan, Canada, Australia, and the UK who will all have the opportunity be scouted by NFL, CFL & XFL scouts. In addition, the game will always include Polynesian players with historic ties to the Islands.
The teams are called “Aina and Kai” and will be led by former NFL Head Coaches Rex Ryan (New York Jets & Buffalo Bills) and Mike Smith (Atlanta Falcons).
CBS Sports Network will televise the game.
• Hula Bowl website - www.hulabowl.com
• Follow Hula Bowl on Twitter at @Hula_Bowl