2013 has finally come to an end and what better way to draw the curtains on this year but to celebrate those people who have touched our lives positively and whether knowingly or unknowingly transformed us into better individuals in the society.
We all have personal heroes, role models whom we look up to and whose lives serve as dogma by which our decisions in life are based. While most individuals would cite great persons the likes of Mandela, Mother Teressa and Mahatma Gandhi as their heroes, mine is a simple ordinary man, my high school basketball coach.
Back in 2007 as a form one student, the school rules mandated each of us to join a sports activity. Inspired by the novelty of the basketball games in movies, I did not think twice about joining the sport. For such a hasty decision, one would have thought that I had all the skills required of a basketball player. Nay, I had never touched a basketball in my life neither did I have a clue about what ensued in the court. Dribbling was rocket science in itself and orchestrating a simple lay-up could only be compared to Advanced Calculus. Regardless of this, I went for my first practice session with the spirit of a student eager to learn.
Well, lets just say nothing turned out as I expected. The rigorous physical exercise that I was welcomed with was unbearable and midway through the practice session I had already resolved to quit. I however decided to hang around for a couple more days as I scouted for another game. Unfortunately for me, this was never to pass owing to my non-sporty nature.
Coach was relentless and “merciless”. He expected each person in the team to follow his instructions to the very letter. His word was law and no one was exempted so long as you were part of the team. Nobody dared disobey him lest you were ready to pay the price painfully through sit-ups and laps round the basketball court. Discipline, excellence and commitment were the virtues he emphasized.
During my first days in the team, I used to find his very presence formidable. But as I grew, I came to admire his character. I look back to those days and I can’t help but wonder how selfless it was of him to sacrifice his time to coach us with no pay for that matter. Every day at 4:30pm, he would be at the court in full gear, ready to impart the wisdom of basketball unto us. Sometimes practice would go up to 7pm yet he never complained. I remember how after every session we would gather around in a circle and he would speak to us, his words were jewels; whether he was reprimanding or commending, you would find yourself listening to the very end. Even when we lost matches and disappointed him from time to time, the morale was still there, the fire to succeed and win the next game would be enkindled.
He was more of a father and a big brother figure than a coach to most of us; guiding us through life. Perhaps that’s what kept us coming back to the court each day yet we clearly knew that we had no future in basketball. He was the glue that held the team; the corner stone; the central beam that bore all the weight.
One thing that I will forever be grateful to him for is the discipline that he bred in me and most of all for making me believe that nothing is unattainable so long as you have the right mindset. I did not end up in basketball, but his life lessons have always been a guide, an inspiration.
None of us may be able to repay him for shaping our lives; neither can we be able to match up to the level of selflessness he accorded in his coaching. All we can do is be grateful for having passed through the hands of such an extra ordinary person. In my eyes, he shall always remain a Shujaa, a true selfless hero, a Batman of some sorts; Superman if you wish, Job Waka.