HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several football stars are in town for the Polynesian Bowl on Saturday night, including Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
On Friday morning, Tagovailoa, Jesse Sapolu and others spoke to a gym full of students at Campbell High School in Ewa Beach.
Tagovailoa spoke about growing up and playing football in Ewa Beach and encouraging students to pursue their goals like he did.
“This is the community I grew up in, I was raised in this community, I had a lot of friends growing from elementary to intermediate," Tagovailoa said. “It’s awesome to be able to come back and share my success story from being in a place like this.”
On the other side of the island, Pittsburgh Steelers’ “JuJu” Smith-Schuster was among other big names to speak at Kaimuki High School.
The Polynesian Bowl is about much more than just football — as the week offers players a chance to learn about their culture.
Iowa star defensive end AJ Epenesa played in the very first Polynesian Bowl in 2017. On Saturday, he’ll return to Aloha Stadium as the captain of Team Makai, knowing first-hand what this game can do for one’s career.
Epenesa, among other players who grew up in the mainland, views this game as an opportunity to reconnect with his Polynesian heritage.
“I try best as I can I mean growing up in the Midwest were kind of isolated out there from my Polynesian side, so it’s a great feeling to get back in touch with my roots," Epenesa said.
Kickoff for the Polynesian Bowl set for 7 p.m. Tickets are still available on TicketMaster,