By Munya Maraire – AfricanBrains
There was much that made me stand out during my time at Penn State and indeed during the NFL draft. My background as an elite track and field runner set me apart, yes (speed drills at college football practice were sometimes called ‘Munya Drills’). However, it was my roots, where I came from and the precedent I looked to set as a Zimbabwean in the United States that drew notoriety from the New York Times, NBC and media outlets from across the globe.
Though grateful for the attention and what it allowed me to accomplish, I was troubled at how rare my story turned out to be. I had family in Alaska, family that provided me with a home and a country to train to my absolute pinnacle. I therefore am a rarity. Ultimately, I founded World Wide Scholarships to combat a severe disconnect between aspiring athletes of tomorrow and the institutions that will offer them a platform for international success.
I leveraged my earned publicity to attract the attention of major league soccer scouts in the United States and Europe (and achieved success through my ongoing work with AC Milan), hoping to help bridge this gap in athletic innovation. To provide and infrastructure for talent development and connect the acclaimed professional teams of the western world to budding competition in Africa.
An example – with the help of western-based Catholic Charities and a number of international, regionally-connected not for profit organizations, Lopez Lomong became a US athlete and citizen who overcame the chaos of a politically unstable Sudan to become the flagbearer at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
I am very proud to play a part (through World Wide Scholarships) in fostering athletic achievement at the youth demographic level, ensuring from uniforms to scouting to housing that our next generation is on the competitive pitch at every geopolitical and geosocietal level.
Innovation in Africa can be found almost everywhere – however, it is inherently clear that beyond technology and specifically in human capital, the fruits of international due diligence, donation and indeed labor can truly be visualized.