Carol Manga grew up in Cameroon playing rugby union and was elated to captain his country at that sport. Due to his success he was able to travel to Australia to further that career – however, it was in New South Wales that he met and fell in love with rugby league.
He was playing for Cooma Stallions in Group 16 of the NSW Country Rugby League and found a sport that is close to African warrior instincts, combining traditional dances and rhythms to make the perfect channel for the zeal of Cameroonian Youth.
It became his vision and then his calling is to introduce rugby league to all youth throughout Africa. Carol believes that now is the time for Africa to become enlightened by this challenging, progressive team sport.
On his return to Cameroon he arranged a basic skills day for people to come along and try the sport. It the end of the day they played a 13 v 13 game, which Carol refereed, and his description is telling:
“What I saw that day, was just a confirmation of everything I believed in. We had around 200 players turn up!”
Sport has been for so many years a method of social inclusion for young people in Africa and in Cameroon in particular, a way out of poverty and seeing some many dreams come true. Carol, in some way demonstrates the power of that with his experiences in rugby league.
Now, in a country of 23.5 million, Manga’s tireless work has helped establish a 12-team men’s championship and competitions for women and children.
Cameroon Rugby League have recently been recognized by the Rugby League International Federation as a playing nation and was granted Observer status in 2017.
Manga remains totally committed to the cause, and he’s battling to have the country recognised as an Affiliate member of the Rugby League International Federation, which would open the door for funding from the Cameroon Government.
In summing up his ideas for the future, Carol is typically ambitious saying;
“My plan isn’t to live forever, but to create something that will live forever.
“Rugby League in Cameroon will be the legacy I want to leave for my children and the world. It’s still a long way to go, but we will get there eventually. My goal is to see Cameroon qualifying in the Men & Women Rugby League World Cup in 2025. Cameroon to play against Australia…”