Henoc Muamba is back where it all began.
Just outside of Toronto, at Father Michael Goetz Secondary School in Mississauga, the Roughriders middle linebacker learned to play football.
A Congolese-Canadian, Muamba didn’t know much about football when he started playing as a sophomore, but his entire family — including both of his brothers and his parents — immersed themselves in the sport.
Fast forward to present day, Muamba’s older brother Cauchy plays safety for the Eskimos, who are also vying for a Grey Cup berth, and his younger brother Kelvin spent time on the Riders practice roster last season.
“I remember my mom running on the sidelines when we used to play our first year. But for us to be able to become professionals, and for them to watch us on TV, is an honour for us,” Muamba said.
This week, however, she’ll get to do a lot more than that. Muamba will have many family and friends packed into BMO Field on Saturday as the Roughriders look to make history against the Toronto Argonauts and become the first crossover team to make the Grey Cup.
“It’s very humbling to be able to come back home and perform at such a high level and so late in the season,” Muamba said.
“I’m definitely going to be excited to go out there and perform to the best of my ability because I know I’ll have people who are there who have supported me from day one and I hope I can just make all of them proud.”
It’s safe to say that Muamba’s mom is already proud, though. In fact, she’s a full-blown member of the Rider Nation.
“She knows all my teammates, helmet off and everything,” Muamba beamed. “She’s a huge, huge football fan and I love her death and it just goes to prove how much she loves her sons because before we started playing she didn’t know anything about it … now she’s actually adopted it for herself.”
She’ll be just one of many faces in the crowd wearing green cheering for Muamba and his teammates as they face the Argos on Sunday.
The team is even confident it won’t feel much like an away game at all.
“It’s going to be extremely exciting to be able to play pretty much at home. It’s home for me but, to be honest with you, throughout the whole season our fan base has been so great. Even when we’re away, we always feel like we’re home.”