Senior Sports Reporter
Have you ever used a condom as a soccer ball? No?
Well, for Clinton Mungeta, that was how he got his start in soccer when he was a child growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Keene State College prides itself on being a place of opportunity, where students can ‘enter to learn and go forth to serve; this motto holds especially true for student-athletes who traveled to New Hampshire from all over the globe.
Mungeta, junior forward on the men’s soccer team, is just one of the many student-athletes who attend Keene but are originally from or grew up in places all over the world.
Mungeta was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo before moving to Concord, New Hampshire, on June 7, 2012.
“My mom wanted us to get a better future,” Mungeta explained when asked about why he and his family moved to New Hampshire. “She went to apply to immigration and then they were the ones who chose [New Hampshire].”
Mungeta applied to Keene State because of its proximity to home and the fact that it was inexpensive and offered him scholarships.
“I figured… it was the best place for me to come,” said Mungeta.
Mungeta has been a valuable player on the men’s soccer team since his first year at Keene. Freshman year saw 16 appearances from him, two of which were in the starting lineup. Sophomore year Mungeta appeared 11 times and picked up his first career goal in a home game against Worcester State.
Mungeta explained that he began playing soccer when he was only three in the D.R. of Congo.
“I grew up playing soccer… it helped me out through everything, throughout all my life,” said Mungeta.
However, soccer in the United States is very different from soccer in the D.R. of Congo according to Mungeta.
“Here in America, soccer is not the biggest sport… you got football, basketball, hockey, those are the three main sports in the United States,” Mungeta explained. “Other places… you know you grow up… you get little trash bags… you make a little soccer ball [by wadding them up], and you go out and play with everyone.”
It was at this point that Glaudi Bangasimbo, a manager on the men’s soccer team who also grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, chimed in about his own experiences of making a soccer ball.
“First you get a condom,” Bangasimbo began. “You blow it up, then you take trash bag, wrap them around the condom, then you take yarn, wrap it around the trash bags… then you have a soccer ball.”
“And here’s the funny thing,” Mungeta continued with a smile on his face. “Say I was the one who made the ball, this means I have all the power… if I’m losing I would grab my ball and I would go home which means the games over.”
Mungeta is not the only player on the men’s soccer team from another country, however.
Declan Pietro-Coughlin, freshman midfielder on the men’s soccer team, has lived all over the eastern hemisphere before landing in Keene, New Hampshire.
Coughlin was originally born in Dublin, Ireland, before moving to Africa and then once again moving to Rome, Italy. After ten years in Rome and attending school at Istituto Luigi Einaudi, Coughlin packed up and moved once again in order to attend Keene State.
“Coming to college for Europeans and people outside America is quite a dream,” Coughlin explained. “I don’t think Americans quite know what privilege it is going to college and especially being a student-athlete.”
Coughlin has made starting lineups several times during his first season as an Owl and scored his first career goal during the Owls season opener contest against Salem State.
Coughlin began playing soccer when he was four years old living in Africa.
“[Soccer] is a bit behind in the United States,” said Coughlin when recalling his experience of soccer in both Rome and Africa and comparing it to what he has seen in the United States so far. “The main sport in the world is soccer, and the United States [is] getting there.”
Coughlin and Mungeta are not the only players from around the globe on the men’s soccer team. Emmanuel Smith, junior midfielder, is from Guinea, West Africa, while Yusufu Juma, junior midfielder, Enoch Kasa, sophomore defensemen, and Josue Assantha, freshman midfielder, are from the D.R. of Congo much like Mungeta. As well as that, Mario Santos, sophomore midfielder and forward, is from South Africa.
The men’s soccer team isn’t alone when it comes to Keene State sports team having players from around the globe however.
Emilyann Ashford, a sophomore middle blocker on the volleyball team, was born in Silver City, New Mexico, and moved to Chile at the age of 14 where she lived until moving to Keene to attend Keene State College.
“[The move] from New Mexico to Chile [was because of] my dad’s job,” said Ashford. “He’s a metallurgical engineer and the company he works for moved him down there [for work]… moving from Chile to Keene was actually [because of] the coach.”
Bob Weiner has been the head coach for the women’s volleyball team for the past 14 seasons and found Ashford on Next College Student Athlete (NCSA). Weiner decided to shoot Ashford an email and according to Ashford it was “by far the most interesting recruiting email” Ashford had received.
Ashford began playing volleyball when she first moved to Chile because there was no women’s basketball and she needed another sport to play. It wasn’t until freshman year gym class when her class was in the volleyball unit that she decided to try out for the volleyball team.
Ashford has been a threatening player for the volleyball team with her current numbers sitting at 168 kills and 1.79 kills per set.
“In Chile [practices are] a lot more laughing… not that it’s not laughing here… [but] there’s a lot more competitiveness in players here,” Ashford explained when asked about differences in sports in the United States and Chile. “In Chile it’s a lot more, ‘we’re going to go out and we’re going to have fun and if we lose, [if] we win, it doesn’t matter’… and practices are a lot like getting together to get the tea around the town,” Ashford smiled. “[In the United States practicing] is a lot more competitive, a lot more, ‘okay we need to work on blocking, we need to work on coverage’.”
Whether it be Chile, Rome, or the Democratic Republic of Congo, sports are global. And with that comes players from all countries with different experiences and stories.
Keene State College is lucky enough to call some of those people Owls.
Claire Boughton can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org