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What I learnt from Sione Faumuina

Sione Faumuina

Sione Faumuina is a modern day gladiator who dominated the Rugby League field during the 2000’s. Sione was a powerful ball runner with a beautiful offload, no surprise seeing he was a talented basket baller growing up in New Zealand.


I still remember him terrorising little half backs and centres on the edge, Sione was athletic as they come and his professional career took him to the heights of the NRL, Super League and representing his native New Zealand.


Even though his retirement was only 8 some years ago, the help to successfully transition and the available resources were far fewer than what is available today. What many didn’t see was the struggles behind the scenes, issues with alcohol and a difficult transition period where he had no idea what he wanted to do.


Sometimes it’s great to learn from someone who has been at his lowest and launched a comeback to find his true self. Vulnerability is an interesting quality and one that allows one to show their inner self. ​It was an absolute pleasure to interview Sione because he is open and honest and doesn’t leave anything on the table. To listen to the entire interview use the player below.


These are my key takeaways from the podcast:


I love hearing about people grinding and building a project on the side. Some don’t realize the time and effort it takes to build your dreams. You’re not going to be just handed the keys to the castle, there is a path which can take time, but you do what you have to do as Sione explains:

“I was working as a youth facilitator for not for profit and a lot of athlete empire was happening either first thing in the morning or after work that’s how I started to develop it. A lot of mentoring was at night, sometimes it was in my car, you just got to do what you got to do”

Sione Faumuina


Everyone has an origin, but I believe it’s so important to have a vision for what you are creating. Dream big; set the bar high, anything can happen.

“They will always be part of the family, but after the 6 months it’s like release the dove. We are going to give them so much confidence in what we have to offer, but they will always be part of the Athlete Empire family. A big vision is the athletes helping each other out, supporting each other, promoting each other; it’s massive to have that support network”

Sione Faumuina


Many people are always asking for help or always putting their hand out first. Amongst all the highly successful people I have interviewed across business and sport a common trait for their success has been service. Service first can lead to many great rewards and create something bigger than you and above all creates a great attitude.

“I really believe that I’m capable of creating change for this athletes and serving them. My overall why will always be my family and my kids but with Athlete Empire it’s them (the athletes), it’s to serve them and be the best I can be to help them succeed”


The struggle and transition that most athletes face on retirement is real. From earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to not knowing what they are good outside of sport. Sione’s reality came crashing down when he went from a professional player to earning $19 an hour working at a bottle shop drive through.

“I really did struggle with that transition period, my first job out of footy I worked at a bottle shop drive through for $19 an hour. That’s why athletes struggle with the transition because they can’t identify with what they want to do, the way I explain it to please, imagine your dream job and you’re going to do that for 5 or 6 years then it’s done, how would you feel if it is taken away from you”

A humbling experience for Sione, but at the same time an opportunity to express gratitude for his opportunities now. That was the start of his origins for his story outside of football and a time to reflect on how far he has come through hard work.


“I didn’t have profile, I didn’t have a profile, I had been out of the game too long, so we had no choice but to self-publish, but even when we self-published finding a distributor was hard, same thing great story but you have been out to long. So I started a Facebook page and dropped a video by the next day it had 30,000 views and 200 shares and the same distributor once they saw a bit of media came calling back”

Life can be cruel at times and we are all constantly receiving rejection along the journey. I see a rejection as a way to continue to improve or find another way just look at Sione’s example above. 

A no is just a road block but most of the time you can be so close to a yes but give up on the dream. Don’t give up, persevere through the adversity and find another way.

Sione Faumuina


“Back in my 20’s you could of played a 50 cent music video and that would have been my definition of success, now it’s about helping people and serving people but also have fulfilment. Money isn’t everything, I’m thankful I’m in a position now to make a difference”

It’s funny how our interpretation of money versus the experience and fulfillment changes over time. I was the same as Sione in my 20’s, while money is important don’t get me wrong, achievement and doing good for others is higher up my priority list, now what’s important to you?


It’s funny how we are always on the pursuit to learn from a stranger a million miles from home. With social media exposing us daily to the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Richard Branson & Elon Musk it can easy to see why we are under such an influence. In recent interviews, I’m getting more people looking closer to home in the form of family or people in their local communities. For Sione, he gets inspiration from his mum.

“My mother is a leader and the trait I love about her is her heart to serve, I’m a big advocate for serve leadership and that’s something I try to live by”

Sione Faumuina

I really enjoyed chatting with Sione, he was open and honest throughout, and so I encourage you to listen to the entire episode. Some great takeaways that I feel inspired to put into practice and improve and continue to challenge myself to reach my goals.


Be sure to continue to follow Sione on his journey:










Get his book 


He found his why giving back to others and has already become much more than just a footy player. He has a dream and the passion to succeed, so use his inspiration to find yours.



Sione Faumuina

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