The Charleston Battery announced Wednesday the signing of attacking midfielder Handwalla Bwana to the 2023 roster, pending league and federation approval. Bwana becomes the 18th member of the Black and Yellow.
Bwana arrives in Charleston after spending the past three seasons with Major League Soccer side Nashville SC. The former Nashville No. 7 had a brief loan spell with Memphis 901 FC at the end of 2022, making four appearances and scoring one goal.
“I’m looking forward to joining a club that’s rich with history,” said Bwana. “I’ve heard a lot from [former Battery players] Brian Anunga and Ozzie Alonso, who I played with, and they told me a lot of good things about the club. Most importantly, for me, is playing for Coach Pirmann again. I’m looking forward to learning under him and getting back to playing my best game again.”
Nashville acquired Bwana in 2020 from Seattle Sounders FC via trade. Bwana played for Seattle from 2018 to 2020, lifting the MLS Cup in 2019. He was signed by Seattle as a Homegrown Player in 2018 from the club’s academy and made his senior debut the same year, against Liga MX side Chivas in the Concacaf Champions League.
Bwana rejoins former Memphis teammates Derek Dodson, Chris Allan and Trey Muse in Charleston. He and Muse also know each other from their time together in Seattle.
Head Coach Ben Pirmann is excited about bringing aboard Bwana and working with him again.
“Handwalla is an extremely cerebral and technical player,” said Coach Pirmann. “He has the ability to create and score chances, beat players off the dribble and has an exceptional killer pass. Handwalla has shown that he can compete at the highest of levels and he will help facilitate our attack efficiently. Additionally, he’s an incredible teammate and a high-character person to add to the squad.”
Handwalla was born in Mombasa, Kenya, and comes of Somali descent via his father, who was also a professional footballer.
Bwana first arrived in the United States in 2010 in Atlanta after growing up in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. Later moving to Seattle, he became a member of the Sounders’ academy in 2015 and made his professional debut with Seattle Sounders FC 2 that same year.
After a pair of seasons with Sounders 2, Bwana embarked on a college career with the University of Washington. Bwana tallied 11 goals and 11 assists across the 2016 and 2017 campaigns with the Huskies. He was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2016 and earned first-team all-conference honors in 2017.
Handwalla is ready to start this new chapter with Charleston.
“I’m looking forward to meeting all the incredible Battery fans and getting to know them,” said Bwana. “I’m very excited about joining the team and I hope we get back to winning ways at the top of the table.”
Goalkeepers: Daniel Kuzemka, Trey Muse
Defenders: Leland Archer, Derek Dodson, Benji Ettienne, Juan Sebastián Palma, AJ Paterson, Deklan Wynne
Midfielders: Chris Allan, Fidel Barajas, Andrew Booth, Handwalla Bwana, Robbie Crawford, Avionne Flanagan, Joe Schmidt, Emilio Ycaza
Forwards: Aidan Apodaca, Augustine Williams