Having represented his country of Tahiti in sports like American football, rugby sevens and soccer, Iotua Anié, a sophomore majoring in social work, said he turned down a football scholarship to BYU in Provo and instead chose to attend BYU–Hawaii.
A passion for sports
Anié said he was motivated to play sports and do his best because of where he came from and what his parents had to do. “I was training late at night, early in the morning and after school. It was my way to be the best I could be in my sports.
“I grew up in a rough environment. It was poor and people had nothing. My parents put me and my little brother in sports, and we saw that as a way out – to escape the struggles of that environment and life. It was a very proud moment for me to represent my country of Tahiti.”
Anié said he was blessed to play at a competitive level. “I played four sports. I started with soccer and played for the national team that went to New Zealand and the Oceania games. I played basketball, and was on a team that went on to win the French Polynesian cup in 2014. I played American football and rugby sevens too.”
A friend of Anié’s and vouching of his athletic abilities, Kahiau Tchan, a senior majoring in elementary education from Tahiti said, “Growing up, our schools were rivals. He and his little brother were always the first ones in track and field. [They] would always go to the track and field races for all of French Polynesia. He is good in all sports he plays and he’s really humble about it.”
Success in sports
Having met Anié 10 years ago, Rogers Tetuapuaa, a sophomore majoring in Hawaiian studies from Tahiti, said he met him at Boy Scouts in Tahiti. “He is a great athlete and has had a lot of success. He even competed in canoe paddling too and was selected and raced in the championships in Tahiti.”
Tetuapuaa said he has competed against Anié in Tahiti and watched him grow in sports. “He is a very fast learner when it comes to sports, and he can master sports quickly because of his athleticism, mentality and focus. He is a great team mate, very supportive and he is respectful on the field. Sports has shaped his character.”
Reflecting on his experience with rugby sevens, Anié said, “With sevens rugby, I had the opportunity to train with DJ Forbes of the All Blacks Sevens rugby team.” According to ultimaterugby.com, Forbes is the most capped player, or one who played the most games, in rugby sevens history.
Tetuapuaa continued, “He came to Tahiti and trained me and some of the Tahiti sevens rugby players. I was able to play with the Tahiti rugby sevens team that played against France and also Rapa Nui.”
Anié said he had an opportunity to stay in New Zealand and continue a career with rugby sevens but ultimately turned the offer down to attend BYUH.
Serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Australia Sydney South Mission from 2015 to 2017, Anié said he had the privilege of meeting National Rugby League [NRL] star Will Hopoate, a member of the Church and trained with him during some of his mission.
Anié and his Fijian companion, who later went on to play rugby in Australia, would train with Hopoate in the mornings with permission from his mission president.
As well as success in rugby sevens, Anié was also simultaneously finding success in football. “I played American football in Tahiti too. After my mission I continued to play football for Tahiti, and we played against Australia, American Samoa and New Caledonia.
“BYU in Provo was there while we played some of our games, and I had a week-long training camp with BYU in Tahiti. I received an email from them later on that I had received a scholarship offer.
"At the same time, I was in the process of coming to BYUH. So it was a tough choice, but I ultimately decided to come here. I was also offered a scholarship to play football at BYU in Provo, but I felt like BYUH was the place for me. Sometimes I feel regret that I didn’t take some of those offers, but I know that I am here for a reason, and there is much for me to learn.”