Expressing pride in yourself, and family

Maxwell Leuga is a proud Samoan man with a passion for sports, and pride in his Samoan heritage. His dedication to his sport has seen him play Rugby nationally and Baseball internationally. He is CMY’s Youth Intern and supports a range of CMY’s programs to ensure young people are seen and heard. 

Maxwell’s family migrated to Australia from Wellington, New Zealand in 2013 when Maxwell was just 12 years old. Rugby had been a passion of Maxwell’s since before arriving in Australia, regularly playing first five position. But something drew Maxwell to baseball after getting his start in softball in New Zealand. Maxwell currently plays both sports at an elite level. 

“I think just because they’re two very different sports, it allows me to kind of find that happy medium in that balance. I really enjoy playing both of them at such an elite level.” 

His baseball skills became so proficient that he has represented New Zealand multiple times on the international stage such as at the Cal Ripken World Series in Aberdeen, Maryland as well as in Japan at the Under 15 World Cup. He recently returned from the US where he had been for five years after being scouted in Japan. There he played High School baseball and earned a scholarship to play for two years at one of the top Junior Colleges in the nation. 

“That was definitely one of the highlights of my baseball career. Competing against the world’s best and just putting your skills to the test is very competitive, but definitely overall as an experience was by far one of the best memories I’ve ever had.” 

On top of his sporting career, Maxwell is dedicated to his Samoan roots. He participates in Collateral Culture’s Ala Mai, which to him is an extension of his village and his aiga (family). Ala Mai allows young people within the Samoan community to learn more about their Samoan heritage, language and culture and grow through different connections with other Samoans, learn sivas (dances) and pese (songs).  

“I think that’s just something that we never got to do when we were younger,” says Maxwell.

“I think New Zealand, in terms of cultural diversity within schools, it’s progressed a lot further compared to Australia, so there are more opportunities back home. Performing with and seeing my family there, it was a very surreal moment for me and my brother because I got to share the stage with him and honour our family.”

Maxwell is currently CMY’s Youth Intern, a full-time administrative role that has him supporting CMY programs like Culture Spring, the Youth Advisory Group (YAG), Youth Leadership and Shout Out as well as supporting Carmel, CMY’s CEO. He’s been in the role for a short while but has already learned a lot in his time with us. 

“I definitely would say that I’ve really enjoyed my time so far and I really love the work that CMY does,” says Maxwell.

“I just learn as much as I can and I think that’s what I really want to take away from this year, gain as much knowledge as I can and create different networks and connections. I would be keen to come back and do more in the youth sector.”