The Glendale Raptors have signed Ata Malifa for a second Major League Rugby season. The 33-year-old center is 5’11, and 205 pounds.
In addition to his playing duties, Malifa will also serve as the Head Coach for the Glendale Raptors Academy.
Malifa was born in American Samoa but moved soon after to New Zealand. His family moved from New Zealand to Samoa at age five to care for his grandparents spending most of his early youth there. His family then went back to New Zealand where he resumed his education. Ata is one of five children, which includes four boys and a girl. This includes his twin brother Nese, who is a coach with Tiger Rugby.
Malifa attended Mount Albert Grammar School, Samoa College and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Development from Unitec.
Ata played cricket, tennis, soccer, and rugby. At age 15 he played in New Zealand with Eden Rugby Club and then with Ponsonby Rugby Club. Then he went to the Auckland Rugby Academy and represented Auckland Rugby for the Under-19s and the Under-21s in 2003-2004. He played for the Bay of Plenty Under-23s in 2005-2006 and the ITM development team in 2007.
In 2009 he joined Nese in California and played with Belmont Shore RFC.
He played for the Eagles XVs team, debuting against Ireland in Santa Clara on May 31, 2009. All five of his points for the Eagles were in that match from a drop goal and a conversion. He subsequently played against Wales, Georgia and against Canada that same year. Malifa also played for the Eagles Sevens team for the 2009-2010 season.
Married to Kristen Malifa, from Kalamazoo, MI, they are together raising their son Tautuamoni Malifa, who is now 16 months.