Failure to Launch: A Disconnect from the West to the Rest

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.

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Munya Maraire, World Wide Scholarships Foundation - Word-renowned NCAA athlete Munya Maraire has a unique story indeed. Born in Zimbabwe, Munya is a founding member of World Wide Scholarships, connecting the university community in the United States and Europe to aspiring athletes throughout Africa. His ‘Joe Paterno moment’ came when when he signed on to Penn State as a track athlete on a scholarship and had a successful freshman year as their top sprinter. After his freshman year at PSU, he arrived at the late Coach Paterno’s house at 6.30 am in the morning to tell him he wanted to try out. He was met by Sue Paterno who was not too impressed by his timing but “...I asked to see Joe anyway. When he came to the door I told him my story and how I only had a short stint of football in computer games and Alaska and only knew the sport of rugby. He mentioned to me that because of my determination, I showed a characteristic that only players he had won national championships with in the past had. He then organized a tryout for the team that next week and I made the team as the fastest player and ended up being one of the most celebrated two-sport Athletes (Athletics and American Football) at his University”. Munya then went on to become one of the first Zimbabwean athletes in history to tryout for the NFL and was shortlisted by the Dallas Cowboys. Email: munya.maraire@africanbrains.org