Munga Mohammed: Let’s stop begging and get active

 Mohammed Munga, 29, is a professional amputee footballer who turns out for Kilifi County team. 
Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • Mohammed Munga, 29, is a professional amputee footballer who turns out for Kilifi County team. 
  • Born with a disability in his right leg, Munga has played football since he was a child. He tried his hand in sitting volleyball and wheelchair tennis, but decided to concentrate on football. 
  • Munga was part of the Kenyan team that finished sixth at the first African Para Games in Accra, Ghana in September 2023. 
  • During the games, Munga was nominated as one of the best players. 

Who inspired you to take up football?
My friends. We used to play with balls made from polythene bags when we were young, and I have never lost interest.

I found some sort of strength in football. It made me not see myself as different from able bodied people.

I started being serious about the sport in high school and that is when my talent improved because matches were very competitive.

After high school in 2016, I joined Bomet County Amputee Football, and have played for the Nairobi and Mombasa county teams too. I came to Kilifi in May this year. When I joined the sport, I knew there are lots of opportunities. I am now earning from it because as they say, practice makes perfect. I did just that.

Who is your football idol?
Internationally, I admire Spanish great Andres Iniesta, who is a midfielder like me. Locally, it is Rama “Mbuguss” Mumba from Kaloleni. He saw talent in me when I was in primary school and encouraged me to work hard in training. He told me that I was a good player, capable of going far in the sport. Mbuguss still plays football for Nyundo Stars in Kaloleni, Kilifi.

What challenges have you encountered in football so far?
Some people discouraged me from playing. They told me that I have one leg and that it would be a disaster if I lost the other leg. That discouragement was my biggest challenge. 

My parents were not into sports, they feared I would get bad injuries. But because I already loved playing football, I said to myself that I will just have to be keen when playing to avoid injuries.

How has football changed you?
It has changed my life in many ways. I earn a good salary from it. It is football that feeds me and my family, so it has not been a waste of time for me. I thank God for giving me this talent and for bringing me this far. Through football, I’m able to meet all my personal needs and those of my family. 

Is there anything else you do apart from playing football?
I like to spend my free time watching movies and watching live football games. I am not an English Premier League fan. I like the Spanish La Liga where I support FC Barcelona.

What’s your assessment of the Kenya amputee football team’s performance at this year’s African Para Games?
Most of our opponents were better prepared than us. Unlike us, their governments supported them. We entered residential camp less than two weeks before the games yet other countries had been in camp for up to three months.

They also got financial assistance, and were provided with balls, jerseys and kits. I believe they also had stronger technical benches. Our style of preparations is wanting because even getting water during training sessions is a problem. We often have to buy it at our own cost. With support from the government and well-wishers, I believe we can perform much better than we did.

How did it feel to be on the list of nominees for the Best Player Award at the tournament?
I am still boasting. I was so happy and excited about that, but I am working hard to ensure our team does well in order to reach greater heights. The nomination motivated me to improve my game by working hard, so that I can win even bigger awards.

The chance to play for the national team put me in the limelight, and I thank my team for believing in me. However, I feel that I did not achieve my goal, which was to lift the trophy. 

Life after active sport can be tricky if you have not planned for it…
It is still too early for me to start thinking about what I will do after I retire from playing football. However, becoming a coach is one of my desires. Owning a club is also my dream when I retire, and I cannot rule out becoming a football agent. All I have to do now is to pray to God to enable me to fulfill these plans.

What does your family think about your football career? 
They no longer have a problem with me playing football. In fact, they give me a lot of support, encouragement and pray for me every day so that I can improve. They believe in what I’m doing and that makes me happy.

What’s your big dream for the local amputee football landscape?
My dream is to lead the national football team to win the African title one day. Secondly, I hope to make upcoming players see the sport as important in their lives. 

This is a sport that can help change lives. Upcoming players should not give up. Yes, it is challenging to play the sport when you are a disabled person, but everyone should know that there are also many benefits.

What advice would you give your fellow young people?
I would advise them to look for something legal they can do. It gives you a lot of strength to wake up every day knowing that you are earning from your own sweat. 

I don’t like seeing people on the streets begging. They should look for something they can do and which will give them their daily bread, and God will give them more strength.