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The Verdict is In: Murhabazi Will Be Critical Part of Blazers Men's Soccer in 2023-24

The Verdict is In: Murhabazi Will Be Critical Part of Blazers Men's Soccer in 2023-24

The CMU Men's Soccer program is very pleased to announce the commitment of Jean Paul Murhabazi for the 2023-24 MCAC season. The 2022 Elmwood High graduate comes to CMU with plenty of club experience both from his home town of Bukavu, DR Congo as well as here in Winnipeg.

A 2022 graduate of Elwood High School, Blazers Men's Soccer's latest recruit completed his secondary studies in Winnipeg after growing up in the provincial capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Due to the Manitoba High School Athletics Association's eligibility requirements, Murhabazi was not able to play in his one high school season here in Canada, but trained with the team and helped coach in games for the Giants. Since his high school graduation, Murhabazi has been studying at the University of Winnipeg, but the call of collegiate soccer was too great to ignore, and has decided to bring his talents to the MCAC with the Blazers.

Prior to his move to Canada to join his father in Winnipeg, Murhabazi played semi-professionally for his hometown team Bukavu Dawa, where he came up through the academy system. Olympic Club Bukavu Dawa were in the second division of the DR Congo's national domestic league, the Linafoot League, while he played there, and his squad won the 2018-19 season. A championship win would normally result in promotion to the top division; however, funding constraints at the club didn't allow such a move. Murhabazi featured as a team captain for one season before his move to Canada.

Now in Winnipeg, the opportunity to play with some of his fellow countrymen in the Manitoba African Cup of Nations for team DR Congo put him on the radar of the MACN's executive director, and newly named co-head coach, Gode Katembo, who was instrumental in enticing the central defending midfielder to the Blazers for the upcoming season. "JP's addition as a centre midfielder to our university soccer team is a game-changer," notes Katembo. "His ability to control the game and set up playes is exceptional. He's not just talented, but his hard work and team spirit inspire everyone around him. With JP, our team gains a player who not only exels individually buat also lifts up the entire team." Murhabazi's MACN squad punched their ticket to the championship finals when they dispatched Egypt on pentalties at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex this past weekend, and for the fourth consecutive year, DR Congo will be matched up against Nigeria in the annual tournament's championship final.

Murhabazi has also been playing regularly in the Manitoba Major Soccer League's second division with Galacticos FC, who currently sit in second place in the division and are hoping a late push will get them promoted next season. He ranks third on the team in goals scored, and considering his position as a defending midfielder, it goes to show the Blazer's newest addition possesses a scoring touch as well. His efforts on the pitch led him to be named most valuable player for last season's edition of the team.

For Murhabazi, the opportunity to get back to a highly competitive level through university sport was a huge draw to transfer to Canadian Mennonite University, where representing a program with the opportunity to compete for a CCAA National Championship gives him a huge sense of pride. Murhabazi will be studying social sciences here at CMU as a pre-law degree, before pursuing further studies in either criminal or civil law.

Now heading into their third season since the MCAC was fully accepted into the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association, the Blazers are ready to hit the road for some pre-season CCAA action in Alberta later in the summer leading up to the MCAC season where they will challenge the Red Deer Kings, Ambrose Lions, and Medicine Hat Rattlers. The provincial winners from MCAC earn a spot at the National Championships, so the Blazers will push hard for the title as they host the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference Championships at the Ralph Cantafio Soccer Complex October 28-29 in search of their first championship since the 2018 outdoor season.

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