Mr. Ochieng: Blades Team Coach
I am Tony Ochieng, and have been the basketball team coach for 9 years now. I have been an ardent sportsman since my Jamhuri Secondary School days. After high school, I enrolled for the Federation of International Basketball Association, FIBA, and undertook Level 1 training course on coaching. I then had a chance to coach U18 National Team, we emerged position two nationwide, I also engaged in a number of high profile tournaments. In 2004, Strathmore University engaged me to start-off a mens basketball team.
About Strathmore Basketball mens team
Team A, the Blades1 was started in 2004; it has 26 players and participates in Premier League games. The team is placed 2nd in table standing and has players averaging twenty years old. We also have a developmental team known as Blades 11 which has approximately 45 players and is top of the league; a great achievement since most players are fresh from high school, they are yet to master all vital skills, average age is 19 years. Players in the developmental team usually participate in numerous tournaments exposing them to sharpen their skills; they then qualify to join the Blades 1.
Achievements so far
Some of the most sentimental achievements include:
- Blades team has been the best team in the University championships four years in a row.
- Several players have been called to the National team to represent the country.
- Blades teams have topped the Lower side Division League.
- Since 2006, the year when we were promoted to the Premier League, we have been able to play at league levels since then.
Challenges facing the team
The main challenge is attaining the right balance between studies and sports a factor I respond to by mentoring players in both teams. Sports requires discipline, it has demanding schedules. Through the Dean of Students, the Sports office usually gives in the academic calendar to Federation of Basketball Association, this helps to give students ample time for exam and CATs. Practice sessions are twice per week with games over the weekend. This schedule requires immense dedication and discipline for the students. As coach, I also mentor my team; we usually hold meetings every Friday to general progress outside the field. If I realize a players academics are taking a slide, I allow time off and reduce their practice attendance so that they can catch up.
Another challenge is that I lose my good players at the end of every four years after they graduate. I handle this by undertaking frequent recruitments so as to maintain a strong team.
We do lack some equipment that would help our players to train and play well but I appreciate effort by university administration for what we have already in place.
University administration support towards the team
Strathmore University has greatly supported the team in varied diverse ways; it has provided training equipment, players insurance covers to name but a few. I also undertake talent-scouting each end of the year to high schools to look for talented players. As the coach, the administration has supported my personal training, to better my skills in team coaching and training. The Universitys mentoring program greatly supports players create and maintain balance between the game and academics. The chaplaincy services are available to the team for spiritual needs at a personal or team level. All these different ways of support from the Strathmore administration do have great impact in the outcomes we get.
Five years from now
In the next five years we aspire and are working towards representing Kenya at International tournaments. For this to happen, we have to win the KBF League games, a target we are tirelessly working towards. Then again, the team expects to maintain our lead in the University championships. We have won for the last four years; we expect this to continue, really there is so much potential for the Blades.