Angelo Leaupepe has two passions in life – playing rugby and working with children.
Currently, he’s indulging in both of them, as a Melbourne Rebels U20s squad member and family daycare operator.
Having grown up alongside six younger siblings, the 19-year-old has naturally become accustomed to caring for younger children.
Born in Queensland and raised in New Zealand and Melbourne, Angelo first began to care for children within his own home, where he was responsible for babysitting his siblings whilst his parents worked.
Following in the footsteps of his mother, a former educator, Angelo has turned his passion into profit by opening his very own childcare centre, where he currently looks after five children.
“I hold the childcare at my house, so I pick the kids up and take them to my house, then I take them to school and I look after them until their parents come and pick them up in the evening and take them home,” he said.
“My mum is an agent and she used to be an educator so she got me into it. She told me it’s really good money and a pretty decent job so I kind of just took it on and I love it. I love kids.”
Angelo’s love for rugby was also born within the confines of the Leaupepe family home, a passion he attributes to his Samoan blood.
“A lot of Polynesians are just born into the game. My family are in love with the game so I kind of just grew up watching it and that’s how I got into it,” he said.
Angelo admits his achievements in his rugby career have now far surpassed those of his father and uncles, who played before him and ultimately influenced his love for the game.
Earlier this year Angelo was selected to participate in the Australian Under 20s extended squad camp for the World Rugby U20s Championship, alongside three of his Rebels Under 20 teammates.
“My biggest achievement so far was making the Australian Under 20’s camp. I didn’t go very far but to make that camp meant a lot to me this year. That’s probably my biggest achievement so far in my rugby career,” he said.
At just 19 years of age Angelo already boasts an impressive list of achievements, not only with his involvement with the Melbourne Rebels.
The school captain of Hallam Senior College won the Melbourne Storm Development Cup Best and Fairest award in 2014, after leading his team to victory in the Grand Final. He was awarded Hallam Senior College’s School Sportsperson of the Year award in the same year, and debuted for Melbourne Storm’s Under 20s in 2015, after receiving a rookie contract with the club.
Honour to present Angelo Leaupepe from Hallam SC with a 2015 Holt Community Spirit & Leadership Award this evening. pic.twitter.com/Gt2L25H7rj
— Anthony Byrne (@AnthonyByrne_MP) December 14, 2015
But the high achiever has set his sights on the big stage, working towards earning a Super Rugby contract.
“My next goal is to get a super rugby contract and hopefully debut for the Melbourne Rebels,” he said.
An average week for the hard-working Rebels backman involves five days of training, a game every Saturday and lots of early starts – a work load Angelo was not familiar with before leaving school.
“You lose a lot of sleep. Monday, Wednesday, Friday I have to get up at 3:30am every morning just to get to Collingwood because I live in the south east and Collingwood is far away,” he said.
“You get used to it after a while and it just becomes natural to you, but when I first started doing it, it was really tough.”
“I had just come out of school and I wasn’t used to that sort of load, but I’m kind of used to it now and I just treat it like a job.”
“I just have to think it will be worth it.”
Jessica Neale is a third year Bachelor of Media and Communication (Journalism) student at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter here: @_jessneale