AFTER nearly three decades on the basketball court, Bahraini star Ahmed Al Mutawa has announced his retirement notching up more than 1,000 games in a glittering career.
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Al Mutawa, 39, started playing as a 10-year-old and carved out a professional career for 17 years, at times fighting back from crippling injuries to continue playing at the top level.
He has excelled wearing the shirt of 14 different teams in 30 countries including nine years playing for Bahrain’s national teams, American colleges and the Colombian youth national team, as well as point scoring in the Kuwaiti, Colombian and Qatari leagues.
Al Mutawa, who is half-Bahraini-half-Colombian, started playing basketball as a schoolboy after his family moved to Colombia from Bahrain in 1988.
It wasn’t long before his natural talent started shining through and when he started winning championships at high school level he was swiftly snapped up to play for the Colombian National Youth Team.
“After Colombia I went to play basketball in the US and I was offered a college scholarship for the NCAA,” he told the GDN. “I played there for five years and once I graduated I decided to pursue my career as a professional.
“I came back to Bahrain in 2003 after placing my profile online and being contacted by the Youth and Sports Ministry. I started my professional career playing for the Manama Club.”
Around the region he also went on to excite fans at Muharraq, Ahli and Hala, as well as several Kuwaiti clubs.
Al Mutawa revealed that the biggest challenge he faced during an illustrious career was coming back from two career-threatening injuries, only made possible by sheer determination, dedication and love for the sport and his country.
He tore all the ligaments in his left knee in 2006 playing with the national team – which took him a year to regain fitness from – while in 2014 he tore all the ligaments in his right knee requiring reconstructive surgery which took around 18 months to recover from.
“After all my injuries I managed to come back stronger tha ever,” he said. “I went on to play for Muharraq, Ahli and Hala and I’m really proud of those moments.
“One of my most memorable moments was a game in 2006 against Manama, a few months before my injury.
“I had played for Manama for three seasons and then decided to join Muharraq. I can clearly remember the entire court appeared to be full of Manama fans with more than 3,000 in the crowd.
“Every time I touched the ball the entire stadium erupted in booing and whistling me. I loved it because it motivated me to do better and I think it was the best game of my life with more than 30 points!”
Al Mutawa has spent nine years of his career representing Bahrain on the court to add to his national glory for Colombia – much to the delight of family and friends of both nations.
“Not many people can say that they have played for two national teams and that makes me really proud that I was able to represent my mother’s country and my father’s country,” he explained.
“My advice to young players is to stay true to the game, be honest and be humble to basketball.
“Work hard and don’t look at the other players, just listen to your coach and if you stay true to the game, you will always be ready for your chance. It will come and you will shine.
“Stay humble, work hard and love basketball.”
Retirement may not be the last time fans see this star in the world of basketball. He has aspirations to become a coach, teach and develop young players … putting into practice what he has learned over the years.