Muamba trying to check Grey Cup off bucket list
MONTREAL — Henoc Muamba has always been a presence on the football field, but he’s proven to be an equally inspiring individual off the field as well.
“I love to live my life in a way to always share the experiences as well as help people grow,” Muamba said to Donnovan Bennett. “I believe in the power of mentorship. I believe greatly and I’ve had great people in my life along the way that have helped me to get to the place that I’m at today.
“So for me to be able to be that person for other people. I feel like it’s part of my purpose as well.”
The 31-year-old’s accolades speak for themselves, and with the Montreal Alouettes hitting their stride last year, the linebacker will be a pivotal piece to the puzzle in 2020.
Following a 5-13 campaign in 2018, the Alouettes came into this past season with aspirations of returning to their former glory.
The defence was a solid mix of veteran and youthful talent, led by Muamba, the eight-year Canadian Football League veteran.
The Alouettes were able to claw back into the playoffs, finishing the season with a 10-8 record. It was the first time since 2014 that the team would see postseason football and, to top it off, the game would be played at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.
On the day, it didn’t go the Als’ way, as Trevor Harris had a career day and the Edmonton Eskimos managed to pull out a hard-fought win in the Eastern Semi-Final.
Despite the early exit, Muamba was still able to finish as the league leader in tackles, accumulating _ on the year.
His efforts were rewarded come year’s end. He was named an East Division All-Star for the third time in his career and a league All-Star for the second time. He was also named the league’s Most Outstanding Canadian for the 2019 campaign.
“It’s amazing. It really is you know it’s a great feeling obviously that is humbling,” Muamba said. “This is a testament of the great season that we’ve had and I have great people around me that really That’s the meaning of that. It just proves that I’ve learned a lot and I’ve gone a lot in my career on this journey.”
Montreal has had a whirlwind of an off-season. Head coach Khari Jones was signed to a new contract, as was Adams, who re-upped with the team through 2022. The Als also shored up their front office situation, hiring Quebec natives Mario Cecchini and Danny Maciocia as the team’s president and general manger, respectively.
After officially taking over, Maciocia admitted that the team was close to the salary cap. As a result, Montreal saw several key contributors from the season prior walk out the door. Bo Lokombo was traded to Toronto, Tommie Campbell was released and subsequently signed with the Argos and Chris Ackie and Patrick Levels — the two linebackers that flanked Muamba for the majority of 2019 — also headed to in-division rivals.
Adrian Tracy was also brought in to help solidify the defensive line alongside veteran pass-rusher John Bowman. But the Als focused more so on maintaining their depth than adding to their lineup.
Muamba will be the man tasked with anchoring the second level this season, and while it’s unclear who will play alongside him at linebacker, Montreal will be feeling good about having one of, if not their biggest leader in the locker room.
Away from the field, Muamba also has his eyes on the new CFL 2.0 initiative being championed by CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie. The global combine tour will be wrapping up in March, with stops in Brazil and Mexico planned ahead of the CFL Combine presented by New Era from March 26-28.
Muamba, who was born in the Congo, was able to play with the first wave of global players in 2019 and has hopes that the league will expand their partnerships to African nations in the near future.
“It starts with education, right, and exposure is huge. I would love to do something like that; partner with the CFL as well to, you know, take it in other countries and beyond for sure,” Muamba said. “The addition of the men that came from Mexico this year was amazing. (Enrique) Yenny, Diego (Kuhlmann) and Juan (Tamayo) were all great people and they had so much passion for the game and there’s a lot of talent out there.
“It just takes one person to believe in you and kind of pushing in the right direction just like me. I was really that person, to be honest with you. I had people around me who believed in me and people who know me and pushed me in the right direction and here I am.”
Despite all that movement on the defensive side of the ball, Montreal still looks poised to be a team that can make the playoffs in 2020.
Muamba was able to share his award win this past year with his daughter, Thea, who snapped a photo alongside the hardware.
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Now that his daughter is in his life, Muamba says he’s able to check off some bucket list items, like playing with her following practices with the Alouettes.
With Montreal hungry for a title, Muamba will be doing everything in his power to help catapult the team to a Grey Cup appearance in 2020. He’s thought about sharing the biggest prize in the league with his wife and daughter and is looking forward to a big 2020.
“You’ve got to see it before you believe it, and it’s important to be able to see it in your mind first before it happens in the natural and in the physical,” Muamba said. “And so, I’ve always thought about it and I’d love to do it. You know before obviously my career is done.
“We’re on the right path, I think, in Montreal and hopefully next year, that bucket listening can definitely happen.”