Home away from home
A lot of things are pretty new for 18-year-old Oluwafemi Ogun.
Just over a year ago at the age of 17, he moved to Canada from Lagos, Nigeria, leaving his family behind.
This September, he began his first year of university.
Even the sport of basketball — one of the main reasons he came to Canada — is pretty fresh to the young athlete.
Despite the fact that he only began to play basketball four years ago, Ogun is now a rookie on the Cougars men’s basketball team.
Ogun — known to his teammates as “Femi” — first came to Canada last year for his grade 12 year of high school and to play basketball in Fort St. John, B.C.
After Ogun attended the Cougars ID camp, head coach Marc Dobell said he saw something in him and decided to grant Ogun a spot on the team.
“We really liked his work ethic, his aggressiveness,” Dobell said. “[Femi has a] really good personality, good character, fits in with the guys and is certainly a good addition for our team.”
Now a computer science student, Ogun said he loves “everything” about Mount Royal: from residence, where he currently lives, to his classes, to the school’s atmosphere.
So far this season, the six-foot-five centre, donning the number 22 jersey, has a total of 33 points in six games. Ogun says that with eight returning players, a rookie like himself has to make every second on the court count.
“When they put me in the game, I try to make a difference. You know, put in effort and try to make everything the same — like you’re an old player,” he explained.
“All the positions are occupied. You have to fight for your position, work hard every practice and make a change, so it’s going well for me. I get playing time — it’s enough for a rookie. I love it here.”
Not only is playing for a university a change, but Ogun said that playing for the Cougars — winners of last year’s CCAA championship — is a different experience all together.
“They won nationals last year, but this year is a new year…. It’s like a new beginning for me. This is the first time I’m playing out of high school and it changes so much,” he said.
According to teammate and third-year returning player Steve Trinidad, Ogun is pulling his weight.
“On the court, he’s definitely a hard worker,” he explained.
“He’s always busting his ass in games and stuff even though he doesn’t play that much.
“Off the court, he’s hilarious,” Trinidad said with a laugh.
Ogun said that despite being the only international player on the team, he feels extremely welcomed: “I blend in perfectly with the Cougars,” he said. “I just love the team sport and the team spirit. My teammates are awesome.”
When it comes to Canada, Ogun said “I love it when I sing the Canadian anthem. I’m learning it.”
Although he said it took him about six months to get used to being away from his family, Ogun explained that playing with the Cougars has made him feel at home.
“They care about me, they care about the whole team. It’s just like a family now.”
For more photos of Ogun on the court check out thereflector.ca.