Eddie dreams of the NFL after slipping child soldier net in Africa

Eddie Ntahira

Eddie Ntahira

First published in Sport
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EDDIE Ntahira is a Hollywood story waiting to be told.

It has only been half written so far, but one day it could be the story of the boy who fled a future as a child soldier in Uganda to make it big in the NFL.

Eddie was born in The Democratic Republic of Congo, a country ravaged by unrest, a part of the world where tens of thousands of pre-teen boys are abducted and turned into child soldiers, their rite of passage their first kill.

To escape this fate, Ntahira’s family fled to England and after years in Brixton they finally found their way to a rescue shelter in High Wycombe.

Eddie went to Great Marlow School and when he was 12, the age some Ugandan boys are snatched from their families, he discovered American Football with Marlow Wolves.

He said: “For most of my life I didn’t like sport at all. I just wasn’t interested.

“But around year eight I found out about American Football and tried it out. I was really bad at first but I kept on trying and finally started making some plays on the field and thought I might give it a proper shot.

“I started looked forward to training and matches against good teams from all over England.

“It’s very good that I had Wolves in my back yard and that found it.”

And it turns out he is a bit of a natural.

Individual accolades followed year on year and so astounding has his development been that this autumn he is breaking new ground with a place at a prestigious American Football Academy in Bristol.

He and Wolves teammate Eric Sjostedt have both been handpicked to join the Filton Academy, which this year will play matches throughout Europe.

Scouts from American colleges and high schools are regular visitors and each season the best of the best cross the Atlantic on the next leg of a journey that could lead all the way to the Superbowl.

Wolves coach Sam McKee said: “Eddie is my best Marlow Wolves story.

“He had to flee the Congo when he was five and came to us when he was 12.

“American Football has been his way out and I used to drive him to all the tournaments.

“He’s totally relentless and dedicated and has been the best defensive player in the league for the last three years.”

There are obviously no guarantees in life or sport and amidst the rubble of wasted talent there are thousands of could haves and should haves.

If Ntahira falls short though, it won’t be for a wont of trying.

He said: “I just feel blessed to have been given this opportunity and this gift. However little it is I can refine it and make it into anything I want it to be.

“People need to know that if they’re given something they must make the most of it and make it the best thing in their life.

“The dream is go out and play in America and now I’ve got this opportunity to show my talent.

“Nothing is impossible.”

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