MEET the tass stars of 2022 – Most Inspirational – Rainbow Mbuangi
Liverpool John Moores University student Rainbow Mbuangi remains an inspirational figure at the forefront of the blind football revolution. We tackled the winner of the Most Inspirational Athlete prize at this year’s TASS Stars awards.
TASS: How does it feel to be a TASS Stars award winner?
Rainbow Mbuangi: It feels really good to be recognised as a blind athlete by the TASS community.
TASS: What does it mean to be recognised in this way?
RM: It makes me feel motivated, humbled and proud.
TASS: Can you describe the impact of TASS support on your career?
RM: The real benefit of being a TASS supported athlete is the broad range of support you receive. Throughout the academic year and football season the support helps with injury prevention, nutrition, life skills and physical wellbeing.
TASS: Can you summarise the highs and lows of the last year?
RM: The last year’s been amazing and primarily because of me playing for my country in the Euros and winning bronze. The other exciting things I’ve achieved this year are the improvement of my fitness and of my lifestyle. Of course, alongside this comes the lows of injuries and those setbacks have kept me out for part of the season.
TASS: Have you grown as an athlete and as a person during this time?
RM: Definitely. The way I have grown in the last year is mainly because of the knowledge that I’ve gained in relation to leading a better and healthier lifestyle. I’ve also been able to improve my overall fitness which, in turn, has meant I can last longer and impact upon games more often.
TASS: What challenges do you face during the next 12 months?
RM: I think it’s all going to be about balancing my studies with my football and improving as a footballer.
TASS: What are your primary targets in 2022/23 as an athlete and as a student?
RM: The targets I’ve set for this year are to improve as a player and to be as fit as I can be going into the World Cup next summer. As a student, my targets are to complete all of my assignments and to get as high a grade as I can!
TASS: Who continues to inspire you to achieve your goals and why?
RM: My team-mates. They constantly push me on to be the best player I can be but also show me what it means to live the life of a real athlete. I’m extremely grateful to them.
Since turning blind at the age of eight, Rainbow has worked tirelessly and passionately to ensure that blind individuals are given the support and opportunities (within and outside of football) that they deserve. Examples of this are speaking at the House of Commons around how to grow blind football within local communities, being invited onto BBC News to discuss guide dog provisions and taking part in the Rickshaw Challenge for Children In Need. In addition to working to promote blind sports, blind football and to create change for those who need it, Rainbow continually exhibits passion, motivation and commitment to his own footballing career. He represented England at the 2022 Euros this summer despite injuring a hamstring just seven weeks before the tournament kicked off.
Photo: Rainbow accepts his award from triathlete Georgia Taylor-Brown