Fabrice Muamba opens community sports day

Fabrice Muamba met Tom Jenner, 20, (left) and his brothers Ollie, 12, and Ben, 10 (right) at the Fli

Fabrice Muamba met Tom Jenner, 20, (left) and his brothers Ollie, 12, and Ben, 10 (right) at the Flitch Green Academy on Saturday. - Credit: Archant

MIRACLE man and former Premiership football star Fabrice Muamba was the special guest at a community sports day aimed at encouraging youngsters to get active and stay healthy.

The ex-Bolton Wanderers, Arsenal and England under-21 star – who suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup quarter-final tie in March 2012 – was at Flitch Green Academy on Saturday, where he signed autographs and had his picture taken with excited youngsters.

On being invited to the sports day by PE teacher Paul Middleton, Muamba told the Broadcast: “It’s been a great day for the kids. This is what it’s all about – encouraging them to stay healthy, get involved in sports and make the most of the life we’re given.”

Muamba has set about raising awareness of sudden cardiac arrests after suffering a heart attack on the football pitch in front of 35,000 spectators during Bolton’s live TV cup tie with Tottenham Hotspur.

The 25-year-old’s heart stopped and he was clinically ‘dead’ for 78 minutes.

It was only thanks to the state-of-the-art medical treatment he received – including ongoing defibrillator shocks in attempts to re-start his heart – which saved his life.

Last month, Muamba celebrated the arrival of his second son, Matthew Josiah, with wife Shauna.

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Since retiring from football on medical advice in August 2012, he has taken on a number of TV punditry roles – including covering this year’s African Cup of Nations for ITV – but would not be drawn on whether gaining coaching qualifications were part of his future plans.

He added: “I’ve had a year already since I stopped playing and it’s been great. I’m kind of used to it by now. I’m just enjoying spending time with my family and taking time out to think about what to do next.”

Scores of people turned out for the sports day – arranged to get youngsters involved in sports and increase awareness of healthy living. Dunmow Rhodes FC, Colchester United FC, Phoenix Hockey Club and Dunmow’s Paralympic Gold medallist Dan Bentley all took part in the occasion.

Money raised was donated to Accuro’s Saturday Play Club and Hearts and Goals.

Muamba was also interviewed by Samuel, a Year 6 pupil at Flitch Green Academy. The youngster, who has created his own digital magazine ‘Strike it like Sammster’, asked the retired footballer a selection of questions.

Having been to watch the movie Man of Steel, Superman was Muamba’s choice if he could be any super hero, while he named Patrick Vieira as his role model growing up.

Asked what inspired him to become a footballer, he replied: “I just enjoy playing football, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy going out there, and feeling free to express myself on a football pitch made me want to be a footballer more.”

Muamba said former Manchester United footballer Paul Scholes was the best player he had played against, adding: “When you come off the pitch you think ‘Wow he is amazing’. He is somebody that every footballer, every young player, if you have the opportunity to watch him play is amazing.”

Samuel questioned how Muamba’s collapse on the football pitch has changed his outlook on life.

He said: “I just enjoy life more. I get to spend time with my wife, she has just given birth to my son.

“I’ve got two kids now so I get to enjoy spending time with my boys and be able to go around different places in the country and be exposed to things, learning a different side to the football game.

“Obviously when you play football you’re very narrow minded, you always focus about football. Now it’s about expressing myself and seeing things are very different.”

Asked where he would go if he could jump into a time machine, Muamba replied: “If I could rewind the tape and go back to the incident that happened to me, if there was a way to stop that happening then I would stop it.

“That is where I would go, but apart from that I’m happy.”

He went on to say his aim was to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrests and get as many defibrillators as possible in public places, such as restaurants, shopping malls and train stations, to help save lives.

Samuel, who aspires to be the next Gary Lineker on Match of the Day, concluded his questions by asking whether the interview had been Muamba’s best ever, to which the retired footballer said: “You probably are the best I’ve seen and hopefully you go on to be the best in the world and do your media training and everything else and I’m sure the door will be open for you.”

To hear the full interview, visit http://soundcloud.com/nathan-lowe-12/fabrice-and-samuel/s-F1bJv