Language and culture barriers don’t slow down Jefferson soccer team

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 12:36 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Soccer is a sport known around the world. At Cedar Rapids Jefferson, the boys soccer team is filled with many players from different countries and several of them speak multiple languages.

“I speak Swahili, Nyanja, Bemba and I speak a little bit of English,” said senior mid-fielder Laurence Ramazani. “I can also write Arabic and French.”

“I know our trainer always makes fun because usually on the first day, I always make a statement, as a joke, to the guys saying, I only speak one language and that’s English, and I don’t do that very well,” said head coach John O’Connor.

In the past, many Jefferson players have been translators for other players who may struggle with English at times. This year, player-coach Paul Mwilarhe helps translate in Swahili for some players and the team has used the language for some plays in games.

“So, with Swahili, I can tell them what the coaches is asking, what type of run that you make,” said Mwilarhe.

In the end, the team always comes together despite the culture and language barriers. Soccer is the perfect way to put everything aside.

“Really, when we come here, we don’t really care about that,” said Ramazani. “We just come together, play the game, enjoy it and forget about everything else.”

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