Spotlight on Voices of Movers and Shakers: The power to unite people in a way that little else does

Group photo of football players standing next to an astro turf football pitch
Photo Credit: Daniel Mutia MCF Kickabout

In this fourth post in our Spotlight Series: Voices of Movers and Shakers, Daniel Mutia a fourth year MasterCard Foundation Scholar studying BEng (Hons) Electronics and Electrical Engineering describes the transformative power of Edinburgh University Sport Union and how it can support leadership development, mental wellbeing, and a sense of belonging…

Sport has the power to change the world…it has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. – Nelson Mandela

My experience with Edinburgh University Sports Union (EUSU) is a testament to Mandela’s words. I firstly got involved while I was in first year as one of the marketers of #UoEWorldCup. I ended captaining Team Kenya which funny enough had only me as a Kenyan in a team of eight. We were united by a bond much bigger than where we come from or what the colour of our skin is – the bond of our undying love for the beautiful game. These people I played with are some of my best friends today – 3 years down the line.

Group photo of the author with UoE World Cup players
Photo Credit: Daniel Mutia UoE World Cup

My next involvement with EUSU came while in second year in my capacity as the International Participation Officer. The whole process I went through to be elected for this process was such an honour especially the election process. When I firstly got to the general meeting I looked at the full hall and didn’t see many black people so I thought – “Man, I got no chance here!” But after my speech I received the loudest of applauses and was consequently elected. This was such a huge sign of validation for me and I instantly felt like I belong.

Photo of EUSU Exec 2019/20
Photo Credit: Student Union EUSU Exec 2019/20

I was the first person in this role so it called for a lot of proactivity to get things done. I was lucky that there was a lot of support from everyone and willingness to do everything possible to get international students involved. I am proud to have organised the first ever African Cup of Nations 5-aside tournament to celebrate Africa Week. More than 50% of the attendants weren’t Africans but they came out excited, with their teams named after African countries and waving African flags – the greatest sign of solidarity!

Photograph of AFCON
Photo Credit: Daniel Mutia AFCON

We also formulated a scheme to waive the entry fee for international student teams wanting to be involved in intramural sports. Sports plays a huge aspect in students’ wellbeing. Personally looking forward to playing every Friday gives me energy to get through gruelling weeks of engineering labs and I was always very happy to see many international students enjoy themselves too wherever I went down to Peffermill.

This year we’ve decided to expand our focus on inclusion beyond just international students. I am privileged to be leading this initiative as the first ever vice president for inclusion. I am very inspired by the work that our newly formed inclusion committee is doing and the initiatives they are taking on. I am also inspired by everyone’s receptiveness to the inclusion conversation from people within sports and people without.

Image of the Edinburgh University Student Union Black Lives Matter Resource Pack
Image Credit: SU Edinburgh University Sports Union BLM Resource

I am grateful for the opportunities sport has given me to make friends, to take care of my mental wellbeing, to boost my confidence, to develop as a leader and importantly to feel like I belong.

Photo of the authorDaniel Mutia

Daniel Mutia is a Kenyan fourth year MasterCard Foundation Scholar studying BEng (Hons) Electronics and Electrical Engineering. He is currently serving as the Edinburgh University Sports Union Vice President for Inclusion. Additionally, he is a co-founder of BuniTek, a social tech enterprise inspiring young people in Kenya and Rwanda to creatively use technology to solve local problems. During his free time, he enjoys reading a good book, playing football, or taking his camera for a date with nature.

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