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Arbitrator rules refugee child ineligible for football season

2 years 1 month 2 weeks ago September 05, 2014 Sep 5, 2014 Friday, September 05 2014 September 05, 2014 2:26 PM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Greg Renoud

BATON ROUGE - A child refugee and high school senior won't get to step onto the gridiron this year, according to the child's host mom.

Clement Mubungirwa, 19, is a refugee from Congo and a member of Episcopal High School's football team. Jeanne James, Mubungirwa's host mom, says he was declared ineligible Friday afternoon.

The decision comes as Episcopal is traveling to North Vermillion High School in Maurice for their season opener. Mubungirwa did travel with the team for this game.

Coach Travis Bourgeois told his team on the bus today on the way to the game. Mubungirwa will be an honorary captain for the team in tonight's game. "We may have lost the battle, but we haven't lost the war," said Bourgeois.

"Though this was not the outcome I had hoped for, I feel that Episcopal was finally able to present our case and represent Clement and his powerful story in the best way possible. We will abide by the decision of the arbitrator and will continue to support Clement just as we support all of our students at Episcopal," said Hugh McIntosh, Head of Episcopal, in a statement.

Mubungiwra has been the center of attention for Louisiana high school football for months now, including bills introduced at this year's legislative session aiming to allow him to play.

The LHSAA has an age restriction for their sports and students over the age of 18 are not allowed to compete. The LHSAA voted 11-8 back in March to not grant an exception.

"He was four years behind as a seventh grader and he put in the time," Bourgeous said back in March. "He put in the effort and he caught up with that to get on status with everyone else."

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