BALLAD OF A FOOTBALL COACH – STEPHEN (NIGERIA)
Remember me? The rice junkie turned potato lover?
Yes, I am back again and today I will be talking about what being a football coach is all about for me as a student. Yes, you heard me right, “football coach”. Students are always encouraged to engage in extra-curricular activities however many engage mostly in parties (I am myself a huge partygoer). I however prefer to spend most of my extracurricular time on sports and what better sport to follow than football.
I started playing football when I was a kid, played up and down the park and enjoyed the sport a lot! I started as a goalie and then played almost every position on the field before settling to play behind the striker. In my high school days, I sucked at football so much that I never made any of the teams at my age grade until my last year in high school. I actually felt that I probably was better off at athletics and I started running 100m and 200m races.
Fast forward to my undergrad days and I found myself playing football first for my department team and later on my university team, captaining the team for much of 2013/2014. My first taste of coaching came during NANS-GH Ambassadors cup when I was player-coach for my university team. I ended up getting into the field eventually. However, that particular day I knew I had to get my coaching badges and I started working towards achieving those. I recall the difficulty in trying to get my coaching badge, playing football for the university team, studying and being senate president for an association of over 180,000 students. It was time consuming, energy draining and mentally stimulating yet I refused to stop keeping on. Today I reap the benefits of all the hard work.
Now it is 2016, two years after I finished undergrad studies, and I find myself coaching a football team in Estonia. It is a football club made up of African students and it is our way of giving back to the Estonian society. Our inaugural match was against the Estonian parliament team and it was quite an interesting one, as I understood how difficult it could be sitting in the dugout for a really competitive game.
Coaching has given me a different perspective to the game and taught me so many memorable lessons. From losing my voice at games to having to repeat one instruction several times. Screaming on the sidelines, making difficult decisions, etc. It has all been one big web of lessons. Patience suddenly became a virtue I had to imbibe, since on most occasions it happens to be the catalyst to winning or losing. Being a coach is like being a big brother. You need to know how to relate with everyone as well as how to demand respect when needed.
University life can be time consuming and mentally draining however to have a unique university experience it is imperative that you try to get a life outside pure academics. Engage in extracurricular activities be it partying, hiking, travelling etc. It always serves as a good way to relieve mental stress. My advice is simple – “to succeed you will have to aspire to acquire what you desire, if in the process you misfire do not retire; rather, re-fire”. Go after you passion and exceed beyond expectations. If you love something, just do it.