Founded by Munya Maraire in 2003, the World Wide Scholarships (WWS) Group is a global consulting agency that connects students with international colleges and universities to further their careers in sports. Maraire is one such beneficiary whose remarkable journey is noteworthy. Born in Zimbabwe, Maraire was a national champion hurdler, a standout for Joe Paterno at Penn State. But the gold medalist soon realized that African talent was being under developed and vastly under exploited.
“The kid who came in second to me – when I watched the video – he didn’t have the same kind of form that I did,” Maraire told the Expresso Show in South Africa. “I was like, if this kid had a little bit of coaching, he would have killed me. So it birthed in me this dream to want to empower the talent of Africa.”
His idea soon became a reality which has afforded him partnerships with renowned organizations such as the Manchester United Football Club Soccer Schools, AC Milan, Usain Bolt’s Racers Track Club and Nike. These have helped to set the foundation for Maraire’s talent to thrive at the international level.
But the Business Logistics graduate from PSU was well aware of an indigenous roadblock that would persist even today. It is the matter of finding the academic institution that would not stifle one’s athletic capabilities in the process. Such an institution is hard to find. Thankfully, WWS which has the power to make hundreds of client placements in universities and professional leagues across the world carefully assesses each applicant and tries to find the institution that would best suit their needs.
In addition, since a well written resume or professionally edited video does not necessarily guarantee an athlete a spot in university, WWS makes this seemingly bureaucratic process easier by allowing applicants to ‘show’ their talent and capabilities in person rather than ‘writing’ them down on a resume. This showcase is made possible through WWS showcase events and talent exposure tours under their Sports Tours, Travel & Events division.
But Maraire, didn’t benefit from this type of outreach. “I learned American football playing computer games with my friends and knew this was the sport I wanted to pursue against all odds,” he told Samuel Amsterdam of the International Policy Resource.
Unfortunately, an NFL career never materialized but he credits his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit with driving his own. He believes the continent’s most abundant natural resources are above ground. “Africa is a mine in and of itself of natural sporting talent, and with that comes a myriad of athletic opportunities in all sectors. We just need to explore it,” Maraire told IPR.
He added that a university connection is not the only avenue for unearthing these talents. It can occur through events such as the Africa Soccer Trials, which serves as the leading soccer talent scouting and professional talent platform in Africa. The WWS also works with a number of sports federations and Olympic committees to keep the connection with African students.
A prime example of Africa’s day dawning in sports success is through the newly crowned NBA champions Toronto Raptors, which comprises a star-studded line-up of numerous African talent. Another example is Africans being listed among the top performers in soccer namely the English premier League; examples are Mo Salah and Sadio Mané from Egypt and Senegal respectively. Top sprinter Wayde Van Niekerk who currently holds the world and Olympic records is another prime example of Africa’s success in the world of sports.
But setbacks can come into play for an athlete and Maraire knows this first hand.
In 2014, the sports enthusiast was involved in a car accident and lost his left arm. Devastated, he soon learned that being unable to do the simple things is what would hurt the most.
The loss of his arm has taught him many life lessons and a realization that any moment could be our last. He told the Expresso Show that his fear soon became the uncertainty of the future as he noted it could make his contributions fall short.
Despite the challenges Maraire has never stopped trying. His choice to be selfless as a youngster setting the stage for so many others across Africa has far exuded humility. Neverteless, the visionary prefers to remain low key “as long as empowering the talent of Africa makes all the noise”.