What I Learnt from an American Coach and His Nigerian Female Basketball Team

What I Learnt from an American Coach and His Nigerian Female Basketball Team

By Abdulkabir Olatunji

I have this tendency to pick-up things from almost any situation. The first time, the Nigerian women’s basketball team went to the Olympics in 2004 held in Athens, Greece, we had an American coach called Sam Vincent, an NBA winner with the Boston Celtics as a player.

What did I learn from Sam? The Nigerian team lost all their 5 group games at the Olympics against Australia, Japan, Greece, Brazil and Russia. All through these losses, Sam would keep shouting at his players ‘keep working’, even when it was clear to everyone including him that they had lost the games before regulation time.

Essentially, he was teaching them and me (without knowing it) an essential lesson. There are times in life when you are working hard and giving your best effort but still keep falling short. Don’t give-up, ‘keep working’ as you compete and fight to win, you get better and if you persist you will eventually begin to succeed.

This philosophy held true for D’Tigress as the Nigerian women basketball team is called; they beat South Korea 68–64 in 11th-12th place classification game at those Olympics to become the first African women’s team to win a game at the Olympics –a fine achievement.

Like Sam Vincent says ‘keep working’ at whatever endeavour you are engaged in be-it sporting, academics, business, politics or any other legitimate activity, I certainly am.

 

Abdulkabir Olatunji is the Head of Strategy at Jarus & JAN Internet Group and an Associate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Management (AMNIM). His interests include writing, blogging, all-things-tech and analysis of current affairs and sports. You can follow him on LinkedIn and on Twitter @maclatunji

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