Not many people have the same type of experience as Clinton Mungeta. This young man came from Concord, New Hampshire, as a recruit to play soccer, but that was just the beginning of his journey to come play here in Keene.
Clinton, “Bongo,” was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, otherwise know as the Congo.
He moved to the country of Burundi where he lived for 11 years. In 2012, he moved to Concord, New Hampshire, with his family to live in a refugee camp with people who have been through the same things.
When asked why they moved to the United States, he said, “My mom always has wanted us to come to a better country and get a better education…and she wanted me and my family to be in good hands and have a bright future and live the American Dream.”
Coming from Africa to the U.S. was a huge change, Mugeta said, and learning English was one of the hardest curves he faced.
“When I was in eighth grade, people would say things to me and I would have no idea what they were saying. I would just shake my head like, ‘Yeah, yeah, okay.’ For all I know, they could have been picking on me.”
Picking on him or not, Bongo’s overall attitude has helped him get through situations on and off the field.
When asked about Bongo, his friends will tell you nothing but good things about him.
He said he will do whatever he is asked to do for his team. “I do everything I can and what the coach wants me to do because I’m still a freshman and I can’t complain… I play wherever coach wants me to play; I will do anything to help this team.”
He said, much like on the soccer field, you need to be ready to face anything life throws at you, and he carries that attitude with him both on and off the field.
Bongo received much praise from his Coach Rick Scott. He said “Bongo is fitting right in, the guys like him a lot. He’s a hard-working kid, he’s just a good, good guy and we’re fortunate to have him because we can learn a lot from him and the things he’s been through and the other guys on the team that have had similar life experiences.”
The Keene State soccer team has five refugee students.
Scott said, “People talk about these refugee camps, but they really don’t know what refugee camps are like, and when you get the trust of these kids and you start talking to these kids and they tell you different things [like] what they’ve been through, after they tell you these things, you wonder how they ended up on their feet and they’re doing so well here.”
Scott also said Bongo is ambitious and wants to win.
“His overall on the field and off the field adjustments are going very well… he’s a very unique kid and we’re happy to have him. He’ll play anywhere we need him, and he has the right type of attitude we are looking for.”
Bongo’s good friend Luck Ndahigwa, who also comes from Concord, is a sophomore and agreed, and said he thinks that Bongo is fitting in well and is meshing with the guys well.
In the meantime, both Bongo and Luck said they are going to work hard and hope to have an important role on this team for years to come.
Paul Bean can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org