Prayer plays a part in hard-hitting playing style

by Scott Taylor

Henoc Muamba won’t say that his own coaxing might have brought brother Cauchy to the Winnipeg Blue Brothers from the B.C. Lions [in the the 2013] season, but he will admit he probably mentioned something to the Bombers coaching staff.

Regardless, the [former] Blue Bombers middle linebacker is so happy to have his younger brother in town—playing on the same team—that he looks at it more as a gift from God than a series of fortunate occurrences.

“It’s going to be exciting this {2103] season,” says Henoc. “As brothers go, we are very close. When Cauchy was playing in B.C. last season, we spoke on the phone every day. We talked a little about football but, really, we talked about everything.

“[The 2013] year, we can talk football all we want together. We can talk about our team and our playbook. It’s the first time we’ve played together as professionals and it’s going to be fun.”

Henoc and Cauchy Muamba, both born in Kinshasa, Congo, are two of the hardest-hitting, most physically devastating young players in the Canadian Football League.

Cauchy, [27], was selected by B.C. in the fifth round of the 2010 CFL draft and arrived in Winnipeg as an off-season free agent, signing this past February. A five-foot, 11-inch, 196-pound safety out of St. Francis Xavier University, he is one of the hardest-hitting defensive backs in the game.

Henoc, [25], was the first overall pick of the 2011 CFL draft by the Bombers. In his rookie season in 2011, he earned the Bombers starting middle linebacker’s job. At six-feet, 228-pounds, he is one of the most feared players at one of the most violent positions in football. Twice, he was CFL Player of the Week in 2012 and was named the team’s most valuable defensive player at the end of the season.

The brothers grew up in a Christian home in Mississauga, Ontario, and attended Kingdom Covenant Church. Both take part in Blue Bombers Football Chapel with pastor Lorne Korol and are deeply committed to their faith.

So how do two of the hardest-hitting defensive players in the CFL come to terms with the teachings of Jesus Christ and physical brutality of professional football?

“It’s not that hard for me,” says Henoc, via telephone from Halifax where he was conducting a football camp for high school players. “I understand football is a very violent game, but it’s also a game that teaches us so many things about teamwork, loyalty, dedication and commitment. My faith has always been a part of my life and I believe that all the good things that come from the game have helped me along the way.”

Cauchy’s feelings aren’t much different.

“We grew up in a Christian home and our faith has always been a large part of our lives,” he said. “Yes, we know football is violent, but we don’t go into a game to injure other players. In fact, we put our faith first. We pray before and after the game and in our prayers before the game, we pray that no one is injured. After the game, we give thanks for the opportunity to have played the game. Our faith is part of us and it’s part of the way we play the game.”

There is little question that the brothers play the game very well. Both are big, strong, hardnosed, fearless and fast and they’ve been given physical and mental skills not offered to every person.

They also believe[d] that despite the fact their Blue Bombers have not won a Grey Cup since 1990—the CFL’s longest drought—they just might have [had] the team capable of winning it all in 2013.

“We have [had] a very good young team and we’re looking forward to what [the 2013] season will bring,” Cauchy says. “Our goal is to win a championship. We have faith in that.”

That’s another wonderful thing about faith. Having it also includes the positive outlook that makes handling the ups and downs of a game like professional football a whole lot easier. It doesn’t hurt to have your brother by your side, either.

Scott Taylor is a Winnipeg-based sportswriter and broadcaster.