Posted on March 13, 2013 by Steve Murray | Email the author
Olene Togiailua is one proud papa. The Schofield soldier’s son, Watson Togiailua, has signed to play professional football in Norway, and the younger Togiailua can’t wait to get started.
“It was a big surprise,” said Watson. “I just thought I would be playing football for fun, just doing something I love to do. I didn’t think I’d get paid for it.”
The former Eastern Oregon quarterback was practicing with the Kailua Storm of the semi-pro Hawaii Gridiron League when his skills were noticed by Brian Pirone, the vice president of European Sports Scouting Agency. Pirone had been invited to Hawaii by HGL president and former University of Hawaii wide receiver Darrick Branch.
“I knew about the European League before but I didn’t know much until I got here,” recalled Togiailua. “Now I can’t wait to go.”
Togiailua received interest from a team in Italy but signed with the Eidsvoll 1814s, who play in the first division of the Norway American Football Federation. The NAFL is a member of the European Federation of American Football, which each year conducts a championship to determine the continent’s best.
A year ago, the 1814s lost to their rivals, the Oslo Vikings, in the semifinals of the Norwegian championships. Togiailua’s signing was an effort to end the Vikings’ string of consecutive titles.
“They’ve asked me to play safety for some plays, especially against the Vikings,” said Togiailua. “It’ll be fun. I haven’t done that since high school.”
Togiailua leaves for Norway at the end of the month. When he will return depends on how competitive he can make the team.
If all goes well, Togiailua will come home shortly after raising the championship trophy.