Atipa Mabonga – The Zimbabwean behind Super Bowl winners Kansas City Chiefs

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Kiwi Atipa Mabonga works for the Kansas City Chiefs organisation. Photo / Instagram

Zimbabwe-born New Zealander Atipa Mabonga has scored one of the most famous trophies in sport, again.

Mabonga will get her second personalised Super Bowl ring after the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas, defending the NFL title they won last year.

The Mabonga family moved from Zimbabwe to New Zealand about 20 years ago, when Atipa was four.

A talented athlete in jumping events, she initially went to the US on an athletics scholarship before her sports management studies resulted in her being employed by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021.

She firstly worked as a social media assistant for the NFL giant before taking on the role of its influencer and culture coordinator, helping build the players’ and team’s brand in the US and globally.

“I’ve never been that stressed in my life, truly shaking,” the 25-year-old Zimbabwe-born Mabonga told Newstalk ZB’s Jason Pine, after the Chiefs’ nail-biting win.

“To be able to keep crawling up the field was insane. I cried, it was amazing, one of those moments I’ll cherish forever…all the emotions in one.

“Last year was my first Super Bowl, soaking everything in, in awe of the experience and taking in every moment.

“There is nothing like the Super Bowl…I don’t think it is anything I’ll get used to. I’m a girl from Southland…here I am with the championship team back to back.”

Mabonga’s stories include hopping in a lift with Chiefs quarterback legend Patrick Mahomes, and dealing with the team’s most famous fan, Taylor Swift, the singing superstar.

She believed Kansas might be unique in giving staff personalised Super Bowl rings. She gifted last year’s version to her parents.

“My dad said I could keep this one,” she said.

There is another Kiwi link at the Chiefs. Assistant coach Alex Whittingham, who has been at the franchise for seven years, spent two years as a church worker in Hamilton and South Auckland.

Whittingham put a New Zealand flag on his gear during the NFL heritage round, saying he would be “honoured” for the country to claim him.

 

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