Vaafauese Apelu-Maliko married his longtime love last Friday 16 June 2023 in a small private function at the Millenia Hotel attended by close family and friends, and members of the Manu Samoa 7’s management and squad.
The woman who has the heart of Samoa’s most consistent and high achieving rugby 7s player is Angeline Fagaote, a second-year BA student at the National University of Samoa.
The couple have been together since 2017 and have a 4-year-old daughter, their princess Lesina, who is the centre of their world.
Sharing with Samoa Global News in an exclusive interview, Angeline said it was sports that brought them together six years ago.
“We first met during a sporting event, and at the time, Vaa was playing for Mahonri’s RAS development team.”
“He came up to me to say hello, and we’ve been together ever since,” she smiles, still blushing as she recalls his first words to her which she won’t let me print for fear of the boys making fun of him. [Samoan aamuness].
Angeline says her parents, Neli and Maafaavae Fagaote live in New Zealand with all her siblings. “There are seven of us, and I’m the only one here in Samoa”.
“My dad travelled across but my mom wasn’t able to make the trip,” the bride says with a tinge of sadness, “there’s noone to look after my younger siblings in New Zealand.”
The union brings together many villages in Samoa who would all be claiming the 2023 HSBC World 7’s Series Best Impact Player, Top Try Scorer and Dream Team award winner as their own.
“My father is from Fusi Saoluafata, Salelesi and Saina. My mother is from Solāua and Saoluafata.”
“Vaa’s father Apelu Maliko is from Mutiatele, Aleipata which is the link to the Tepatasi Rugby Club. Vaa’s mother, Penewetta Apelu is from the village of Lufilufi.”
“Yes my family’s villages would be cheering as loud as Vaa’s, probably even louder,” laughs Angeline.
The couple kept their day simple. A blessing followed by words of encouragement from one of Angeline’s family pastors, with a focus on the Samoan culture of faaaloaloga to show respect to the guests present.
The faifeau of all four pulega from Aleipata, dignitaries, national 7s management and team were all included in the faaaloaloga to reciprocate the love shown to the newlyweds.
The best man was the ellusive local talent from the Tepatasi Club, Pelasio Viliamu, while the maid of honor was Angeline’s best friend, Lauryn Naea.
On Vaafauese Apelu-Maliko’s rugby career, the bride says she is grateful for the talent God has given her husband.
Despite Samoan players being paid substantially less than their counterparts around the world, Angeline says Vaafauese’s rugby has been a blessing to the development of their families.
“Vaa has been able to provide for our young daughter and also support our family through his rugby.. I am grateful to God for the talent He has given him.”
At the end of the interview, Mrs Apelu-Maliko very casually drops a bomb on the writer and Manu Samoa 7s fans across the globe.
Angeline says they had originally planned to get married in December, however, a 2-year contract with a 3rd division French club was offered up for Vaa.
Mrs Apelu-Maliko says it was a decision based on what they felt would be best for their young family.
“It allows us all to go together and we hope to leave in the next two weeks.”
“The pulega [MS7s Management] were also surprised that day when my father, who was the MC, announced it and said, this will also mark Vaa’s farewell to Manu Samoa.”
The Manu Samoa 7’s players have a small window of a break at this time of the year before they regroup, with Samoa’s Paris 2024 Olympic qualification remaining on this year’s must do list.