Teuila Fotu Moala is a familiar face on the footy field. Not only is she an amazing player for her club Ōtāhuhu, but she is also a representative player for Counties Manukau and the New Zealand Kiwi Ferns. She is known for her big hits, her strong runs and that cheeky offload she always has sitting in her pocket. As a woman who has played against Teuila and been stepped and smashed several times by her (LOL), I thought it would be cool to ask her a couple of questions so everyone could get to know her a little bit better. She is truly inspirational and a genuinely kind loving human.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Teuila Fotu Moala, I am a born and bred Ōtāhuhu Product. Some may argue Ōtāhuhu is part of the central region of Auckland, others say South Auckland and even I'm confused, but one thing I can say is that, I do come from a humble abode.
I am one of six children. The eldest being my only brother and the rest of us are all girls. I'm the middle child - Studies say they're the rebellious ones, and I can honestly say that I do live up to those expectations lol.
My parents were both born in Tonga, Mother was from Ma'ufanga, Tongatapu & my Father was from Falevai, Vava'u - Both Migrated here to New Zealand in the early 80's and just like all Migrants, in search for a better lifestyle.
2. Tell us about your culture/ethnicity and the things that you love most about it?
I’m always mistaken for a Samoan because of my name - but I was actually named after my great grandmother, but to my knowledge, I have no Samoan history in me. I am NZ born Tongan who was raised just like any typical tongan girl living in Tonga. I grew up with the two plaits and ribbons just like the children in Tonga, I attended a Tongan pre-school, and as I grew up to the age of 7/8, I hardly knew any English - I don't think people would've differentiated me with a child who was actually born in Tonga haha.
My parents raised me under the Tongan values and customs, growing up as a kid, it was all I knew. As I grew older, I started losing the grip on my mother tongue, but even though I've lost a bit of fluency in my speaking - my Tongan values are a still huge part of who I am today - & that’s something I love about being Tongan.
I think it's pretty easy to spot a Tongan amongst other Polynesians, not only because of the distinctive Mats we wear around our waists, but because of the values we are taught. Our 'ulungānga (manner) towards elders, peers, parents and siblings all differ and it's acted in the most humble approach. It’s one of the things I love about being Tongan, its knowing importance of lowering yourself to lift others - this is even done physically by the act of crawling past an elder as you past them, these small acts show the humility of our culture.
3. What is your favourite part of playing Rugby League?
My favourite part of playing rugby league? Well.. This answer for me has changed over time, the more years I've been playing the more it has changed. In my early years, it was about being able to play with my mates and creating new friendships. Now that I've been playing top level footy for a bit, I love being able to inspire the younger ones to get involved with the game - but I think something that rings common is that I love just having fun and enjoying myself & playing this game plays a huge part in that.
4. Whats your fav thing to do for recovery?
My favourite thing to do for my recovery is sleep. No lies, any spare time I get, I love getting naps in. They say you grow when you sleep - so I should be very tall with the amount of sleep I get, but I think these genes won't let it happen lol.
5. Who in your family inspires you the most and why?
Though it’s a tight race between either my Mum or Dad that inspires me the most, I would have to say my Mum. Mum made a lot of sacrifices when she was young to help her mother out. When she moved to NZ with her widowed mother, she was 15 & decided to find work instead of getting an education so that her and her mother could live a little comfortable in a foreign land. Fast forward to now, she is a certified and registered Early Childhood teacher who is probably 1 of 5 Pre-school Owners in Auckland that is privately owned. That, in itself is inspiring and proved that even when you don't have much, if you have the will, there will be a way.
6. 3 words your mates would use to describe you? ...
3 words I HOPE they use to describe me lol - could be funny..... HAHA, that’s a hard one actually - I Would say gentle, caring and friendly.
7. How hard is it being a female in a male dominated sport ?
Being in a male dominated sport, it can be a bit challenging but I think it's only hard if you let it be. Otherwise over the years, it has gone better with the growth that has been happening and the more exposure we have been getting & that’s not just in rugby league - Its women in sport in general. Women are getting more recognised now and people are starting to realise that women can play just as well as the men can, in any sport.
8. One thing you think would benefit the women’s game in the future?
Investing in quality coaching in the local women’s teams. I think we should focus on developing our grassroots teams to a point where they are receiving quality coaching as well as trying to develop new teams in different areas. It all starts from club and if they get it right from there, the top becomes foreseeable for players & ideally that’s where everyone wants to be.
9. Favourite food?
My favourite food would be Ice Cream.
10. 3 things you would have to have on a Desert Island?
If I was completely deserted on an Island, it would be music, food and good company.