Liverpool’s Rainbow is an award-winning visually impaired athlete who plays in the England Blind Football squad. He is supported at LJMU through the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), backed by Sport England. He visits LJMU’s High Performance unit regularly to maintain his form and get advice from a range of sport science specialists, as well as supporting the development of current students by allowing them to deliver his training.
From a sporting perspective, Rainbow has already represented England at multiple major sporting events and was part of the squad that won bronze in the 2022 IBSA Blind Football European Championships. Rainbow is now aiming to be selected for the 2023 World Cup squad, alongside his on-going studies with a North-West based university.
Away from being a footballer, Rainbow continues to be an inspiration to others having spoken to the House of Lords National Plan for Sport and Recreation Committee about developing para sport in the UK. He also founded a charity - Sightbox - which visits schools and universities to coach different blind sports.
Rainbow features in our ‘Humans of LJMU’ series in collaboration with the ‘Humans of Liverpool’ social media account, sharing the stories of the people who make our city, communities and university the vibrant, inclusive place it is in celebration of our bicentenary year.
In his interview he reflects on the support he gets from LJMU, following his sporting dreams and meeting his role model, Marcus Rashford.
“The scholarship scheme is brilliant because it gives you that pathway to pursue academia and elite sport at the same time. I benefit from strength and conditioning training and nutritional advice from the brilliant lecturers here and I help the masters’ students to test out their knowledge and ideas by training me.”
– Rainbow Mbuangi
Rainbow’s ‘Humans of LJMU’ interview
“I became blind from the age of 8 years old. I developed a detached retina in my left eye and then I gradually lost the sight in my other eye. From then on I always dreamed of being in the Paralympics. I always knew I wanted to be a competitive sportsperson, but I wasn't sure what in as I played multiple sports growing up, including rock climbing.
“Just after I turned 14, I started to play blind football for Merseyside Blind FC. By the time I was 16, I had qualified for the England senior men’s team. Whilst working with John Moore’s through their TASS (Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme) Programme, I’ve been supported to compete in numerous majors already and I’m still only 19. In 2019 and 2022, I represented England at the Euros, and last year I was lucky enough to travel to Italy for that. We finished third in both tournaments. The scholarship scheme is brilliant because it gives you that pathway to pursue academia and elite sport at the same time. I benefit from strength and conditioning training and nutritional advice from the brilliant lecturers here, and I help the masters’ students to test out their knowledge and ideas by training me. I’m looking forward to competing in the 2023 World Cup in Birmingham, and then my big dream is to be part of Paris 2024.
“My biggest role model is Marcus Rashford. I’ve always said I see myself in his boots, the way he plays and the way he is as a person. As an attacking player, I know the way I play is similar to him, I just know it. I was actually lucky enough to meet him through a campaign with the Guide Dogs Charity. I got to ask him, and Jesse Lingard, a few questions and talk to them about my football. They’re lovely people, and it really inspired me to want to go on and be successful in football like them. It was an amazing experience, and Marcus has said he’s going to come and watch me at one of my games.”