Offensive Tackle #51 Kealakai Maiava
The symbol of the unbridled power of the Seagulls offense. He played one year at Colorado University, where he was named a Freshman All-American. He transferred to UCLA, where he became a starter and served as co-captain. He joined the Seagulls in 2013 and was named Rookie of the Year and All X-League that year. His older brother Kaluka played in the NFL from 2009 to 2014. (25, 186cm, 134kg)
Coming to Japan
What was your main reason for coming to Japan?
I love football and when the opportunity presented itself for me to continue my career, it was something I couldn't turn down. I immediately jumped on it and here I am.
What did you want to get out of it?
I just wanted to further my football career. After I finished college, I knew I had some more years of football left in me, and I wasn't ready to walk away from the game just yet.
I also wanted to expand my horizons and try something new, so what better way than to play football in a foreign country.
What is your impression of Japanese football?
Football in Japan is good. There are a lot of talented Japanese football players in the X-League.
Obviously the Japanese football players aren't as big as the ones back home but these guys are really hard workers and I give them a lot of credit.
How has it progressed since you arrived?
Over the years I've been here, the league has gotten a lot better. There is more competition, which makes the game a lot more fun and exciting. Also more and more people are coming out to watch the games, which is always good.
Playing for the Seagulls
What is the appeal of the Seagulls as a team?
I love how close everyone is on this team. It doesn't matter who you are. From coach to player to staff, everyone treats each other like family.
To me, that is very important. When a team feels more like a family, it's something special.
What is different from playing for an American team?
I would say it's very similar. Back in America and in Japan, when it's time to practice and stuff we practice hard and train hard, but when were done, we all just joke around and have a good time.
What is your overall impression of the Seagulls as an organization?
The Seagulls is a great organization. Since the day I arrived in Japan, they have taken care of me. Anything I needed help with, all I had to do was ask.
They have shown me nothing but kindness and respect and accepted me with open arms. I really appreciate that from them.
Living in Japan
What is it like living in Japan?
Living in Japan is cool. The people are nice and the food is great and there is always something to do. Can't really complain.
What adjustments to you need to make?
I would say the biggest adjustment I had to make was the fact that there aren't many places to swim in Tokyo. Being from Hawaii, I swim everyday either at the beach or in the river and I love being in the water.
So sometimes I feel like a fish out of water. Also getting used to the trains. It can be confusing at first, but it's really simple once you figure it out.
What do you like to do off the field?
I like exploring and checking out the temples and other cultural sites. I also enjoy trying all the different types of food out here.
What is it like balancing football with a job?
Sometimes it's difficult and tiring, but in the end it's all worth it because I love the game.
Advice to prospective players
To just be open minded and go for it. Don't waste your time trying to compare Japan to what you're used to back home, because it's a whole new world out here.
You have to be willing to indulge yourself in their culture and customs. If you can do that, you will have a great time in Japan.