Provided by Benji Tembo
Senior Spotlight: Benji Tembo
March 2, 2019
Named GSAC player of the year two years in row, NAIA All American in 2017 and 2018, and holding tenth in TMU history for most career goals, Benji Tembo is a Mustang legend.
“Benji—well number one, he’s probably the most humble guy that I know, and he’s probably the best soccer player I’ve ever played with,” said Johnny Brown, fellow captain of TMU men’s soccer team.
Tembo is from Lilongwe, Malawi where he grew up playing soccer with his older brother and friends.
“In Malawi, pretty much everybody plays soccer,” Tembo said. “So I started playing probably (when) I was, I don’t know, four or five. We had our own team in the neighborhood. Kids who grew up together, played together.”
Tied for tenth most career goals in Mustang history is Humphrey Mahowa, a fellow Malawi native who’s career at TMU was part of Tembo’s journey to becoming a Mustang.
“There’s this organization that’s called Chisomo Idea that helped me get here in America, and they had already brought Humphrey here,” Tembo explained.
Chisomo Idea is a Christian based organization, founded by Malawian soccer player Noel Musicha, that focuses on building up at-risk African communities. For both Tembo and Mahowa, Chisomo Idea was how they were able to get from Malawi to Santa Clarita, California.
Mahowa also helped develop Tembo into the leader on the field he is today.
“When I was coming in, he had already played a season here,” Tembo said. “So it was easy to go to him and talk to him: What should I do? How do I fit in? What’s the difference between their style of play and ours in Malawi? So he was a huge part.”
Another influence on the soccer star was his coach, Jim Rickard, who Tembo said also helped him get to TMU and really pushed him to do his best.
“It’s about impact on the team, and he was sort of the center of it. He was sort of the glue on the field that people look to,” Rickard said. “People knew he was going to have a good game, and he was going to do well. And they knew they had to step up to a higher level to honor that.”
TMU, however, is more than just a soccer field, and Tembo excelled in the classroom as well. Yet, Rickard noted how Tembo was always so humble.
“He didn’t like to be the focal point of stuff,” Rickard explained. ”I would commend the guys that were getting really good grades, and I would say ‘Benji got a 4.0’. He didn’t like that.”
Tembo, however, says there is one motivating force for both his good grades and his performance on the field
“You worship on the field, you play your heart out for Christ, and then you also go in class and you got to put in the work, doing it all for His glory,” Tembo said.
Tembo completed his last season as a Mustang last fall, and he will walk in May. After graduation he plans to pursue a career in business down in San Diego.
While they are sad to see him go, Tembo’s coach and team are thankful to Tembo for his dedication to the team over his last four seasons as a Mustang.
Peter Makay, a sophomore business major on the soccer team summed up Tembo best when he said “he more does his talking with his feet.”