Mwanga: World Cup Great for Africa

For Union forward Danny
Mwanga, this summer’s World Cup in South Africa cannot come soon enough.


A native of the Congo,
Mwanga is thrilled to see the tournament finally be played on his home
continent.

“I’m very excited,” Mwanga
said. “Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to go over and play
there and will just watch it. It’s the first World Cup ever to be in
Africa and we all know how soccer is very big over there, so it’s
definitely huge. At the same time I think it’s a great opportunity for
the rest of the world to go there and live there and see how different
it is to other continents.”

Mwanga immigrated to the
United States in 2006, culminating a five-year journey that ended in
Portland, Ore. Mwanga went on to star at nearby Oregon State, but he
started his career in the U.S. with meager beginnings.

“I started to play with
this men’s league,” Mwanga said. “It was pick-up African teams and the
guy who was there saw me and took me to a [Portland] Timbers try-out.
And the assistant coach there saw that I had talent, and saw that I was
young, and that the best way to go is to school for at least a year or
two and from there I could try for MLS.”

Mwanga said that he’ll pay
close attention next month to the host nation of South Africa and to
the Ivory Coast, two of six African nations in the tournament he figures
should make an impression.

“They are a pretty good
team and they are at home, which means they’ll have great support and
it’ll really help them to do well,” Mwanga said of South Africa. “I also
think that Ivory Coast are a pretty good team as well, so I’m hoping
that those two can make it to the quarterfinals.”

No matter who advances or
gets eliminated after the group stages, Mwanga’s main focus in the
tournament is the bright light it will shine on Africa. He’s hoping that
his homeland will shine right back, helping others understand how
soccer can unite the world.

“Having lived in Africa, I
know that there is always some sort of war or conflict,” Mwanga said.
“When it comes to soccer, however, it’s unbelievable and amazing how you
see a sport bringing everyone together.

"It’s
almost like people forget about everything that’s happening in the
country and they focus just on soccer. It’s one of the biggest sports in
the world and the people of Africa have so much passion for it. I think
this tournament is going to be a wonderful opportunity to bring the
whole world and most of Africa’s countries together.”