November 11, 2019

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In Conversation with Henoc Muamba

Henoc Muamba.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Henoc Muamba.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/11/2015 (1444 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/11/2015 (1444 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Henoc Muamba would prefer to be in Winnipeg playing for the Grey Cup, but he's got some fairly important tasks to do while he's in town nonetheless.

You know, God's work.

The former Winnipeg Blue Bomber defensive standout is also a member of Athletes In Action, a Christian organization that uses sports and good deeds to spread the good word and help people who have had a few fumbles along the way get back in the right huddle.

Along with a number of other current and retired players, including former Toronto Argonauts running back and coach, Mike "Pinball" Clemons, Muamba participated in several events leading up to Sunday's Grey Cup.

He was at Siloam Mission bright and early on Wednesday and Thursday mornings to serve breakfast to the underprivileged.

He also attended an event hosted by Teen Challenge, an inner-city ministry and drug rehabilitation centre, where he spoke to 40 young people, and an event called "Mom & Me," where he addressed a large group of single moms and their kids.

Muamba first cut his teeth as a professional football player, of course, with the Blue Bombers from 2011-2013. He signed with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts last year and, after being released in September, returned to the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes.

Born in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Muamba grew up in Mississauga, Ont., and played college football for the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.

More than an hour after he could have left both mornings at Siloam Mission, Muamba could be seen sitting at a table talking to various people, telling them his story and listening to theirs.

FP: What are you doing in town?

HM: I was contacted by Dave Klassen from Athletes In Action to see if I wanted to come to Winnipeg and help out at several events. I was happy to come back.

FP: Why do you participate in Athletes In Action?

HM: It's not just an athlete thing, it's a human being thing. Even if I wasn't a professional athlete, I would still give my time to try to help people who are less fortunate. I always try to find a way to be used by God. It's part of being a Christian and part of who I am. I was first introduced to it back in college and I became more involved once I started with the Blue Bombers. Most of the things we do are during the off-season but we do things during the season, too.

FP: How was the experience at Siloam Mission?

HM: We had the opportunity to serve people. A lot of them who had canes and couldn't stand in the long lines, we brought their plates to them. We cleaned off tables and, afterwards, we spent some time with them. We shared a lot of different things. I think that's what life is all about, communicating with others and showing some love to others.

FP: It's probably one thing for young kids to listen to you because they look up to you as an athlete but is it a bigger challenge to connect with single moms?

 

HM: That's the biggest misconception. I didn't know the type of impact my life and experiences would have on other people until I stepped out (to speak to groups like this). I encourage people to share their stories, to step out and volunteer. You never know how much of an impact you can have on other people.

I talk about why I love football but it's not the fame and the money, it's the lessons it has taught me. They're parallel to my life. I can use these lessons and apply them to my life. The ups and downs of football, coming into a game not fully believing how we're going to pull it out, overcoming adversity... when you share those experiences with mothers, they can completely relate. They're nodding their heads.

FP: And, of course, you'll be at the game cheering on your brother? (Former Bomber Cauchy Muamba is a safety for the Edmonton Eskimos.)

HM: When my flight was booked, it was strictly for Athletes In Action. I didn't know he'd be in the Grey Cup. But my brother and I have always been close. Whenever I can support him, I do that. I'll be at the game and my family will be there, too. It's an exciting time for him. My reasons for being here is deeper than football, greater than the game itself.

FP: Do you think it will be difficult being at the Grey Cup and not be on the field?

HM: I think it will be motivating and inspiring. One of the things I've learned is to take everything with a grain of salt and have the right perspective. I could pout but I choose to have fun and support my brother. I'll be watching the game I plan on playing in next year. I will use it as fuel to train harder this off-season so I can be the best player I can be to help my teammates get to this level and to this game.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

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