Falcons' Maponga makes big adjustments

Saturday morning, Falcons linebacker/defensive lineman Stansly Maponga wrote on Instagram and his verified Twitter account to clarify some comments he made to FOX 5 about growing up in Zimbabwe.

 He wrote that while he hunted growing up, he did not hunt to survive.

“Let me clear a few things up, no we do not hunt to survive in Zimbabwe,” said Maponga in his post. “We hunted common animals leisurely when younger. As kids, we were raised actively and we didn't stay couched up in the house all day playing video games. No, we enjoyed the outdoors and in Zimbabwean culture we're taught the essence of loving and protecting nature. In actuality we haunted "Mhembwe" which is slightly comparable to deer over here in the U.S. . That's why I said deer, I didn't know the proper term to use I just wanted to paint a picture in people's heads. We also enjoyed catching small creatures resembling squirrels (mbeva), but not necessarily squirrels. I'm repentant for those remarks.”

He also clarified that, while he said he didn’t have shoes growing up, he actually shared a pair of shoes with his brothers.

“I grew up not having much, me and my brothers had to share the same pair of shoes for many years so having the opportunity to come to the U.S. and owning my own pair of shoes was a privilege but certainly not a culture shock like I stated,” wrote Mponga. “Deeply apologize for saying that. My bad.”

He added: “I love playing football, I'll never disown my country, I'm also proud to an American and the opportunities they have bestowed me with. I want to be a role model, I want kids in Zimbabwe to grow up knowing that with God and hard work nothing is impossible.” Here is the link to his complete post on Instagram: https://instagram.com/p/6IKwAyhKFO/Falcons linebacker Stansly Maponga had a big adjustment to make.
 
“Just...shoes, I'd say that,” said Maponga. “I didn't have shoes growing up.”
 
The third-year Falcons linebacker has a hazardous occupation, taking on 300-plus pound offensive linemen who will do anything in their power to keep him off their quarterback. Maponga, however, has some perspective: he grew up in Zimbabwe, a country in southern Africa, living there until he was 9 years old.
 
"I grew up in it,” said Maponga. “Knowing what I know now, it wasn't safe."
 
Maponga is the first ever NFL player from Zimbabwe – a point of pride. He has many positive memories of growing up in Africa, but many were challenging. 
 
“Back home, kids grow up a lot quicker because you have to go look for food and stuff like that,” said Maponga. “[I hunted for] mostly deer, squirrel. Also rabbits, too.” 
 
In his third season out of Texas Christian University, Maponga is looking to expand his role in Atlanta and solidify his spot on the team; for himself and his career, yes, but also to put himself in a better position to be able to give back to kids in Zimbabwe. 
 
“Donate shoes, clothes, food all that type of stuff,” said Maponga. “It didn't really sink in until my mom really let me know what was going on [in Zimbabwe]. I can really change lives back home."
 
The former fifth round pick has appeared in 24 games during his first two seasons, registering eight total tackles. Listed as 6’2, 265 pounds, Maponga is listed as a linebacker on the roster, but played mostly defensive line during Wednesday’s 11-on-11 drills at training camp.
 
"The initial thing that jumps off with Stansly is when we put him outside at defensive end, he has real quickness to go,” said Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. “He's really improving. He's a guy who works extremely hard. as we feature him, we're trying to find the best pass rush spot for him. That's what we're featuring with him during camp."
 
From Zimbabwe to the NFL, Maponga is proud of his journey so far and is excited about what’s to come: on the field and how he can help off of it. 
 
"I think about it, man,” said Maponga, “I came a long way."

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