Player Spotlight – Charles Okafor

Our weekly Wednesday feature is linked to this week’s EABL Player of the Week award, with one of the hottest players in the league right now joining us to find out what makes him tick, how he got into basketball, his goals for this season and beyond, and much more.

This week, reigning EABL POTW Charles Okafor is the man in the spotlight.

Name: Charles Okafor

Position: Wing

Team: The Sheffield College

Tell us a little about yourself:

I am a 6’7′ wing, I play for The Sheffield College and I’m a third year student.

My parents are both Nigerian, however I was born in Ireland. I started to play basketball when I was six and I haven’t stopped since.

How and where did you first get into basketball?

As a child I tried every sport. Football was my first choice however it did not quite workout so I tried basketball and I really liked it.

My first team didn’t have a U10 group so I had to train with U14 and I hated it because everyone was bigger and stronger than me! But my parents forced me to go and I am glad they did because I fell in love with the sport and I made a myriad of friends.

Can you a remember a moment when you decided basketball was something you wanted to play more seriously? What happened?

Throughout my basketball career I rarely played with my own age group, I always played with older players. They always pushed me to be better and kept telling me I could make that next level.

I think at the age of 15 I knew how hard I’d worked and that if I did not take basketball seriously, all the hours I spent in the gym shooting and playing would have been for nothing.

What have been the biggest challenges of your basketball career so far? 

The biggest challenge I’ve faced was during the COVID pandemic. Everyone had to stay indoors and obviously basketball games, training sessions and gym sessions were cancelled.

At the time it was impossible to find courts where you could practice, and it was very hard to motivate yourself to train hard because you could only train by yourself.

Who is the toughest player you’ve faced? What made them so difficult to play against?

The toughest opponent I have faced so far would be my teammate, Muhammad Ibrahim.

He’s unstoppable in the paint and he can shoot as well so sagging off him is a bad idea. Throughout my time at Sheffield, he has made me a better player in several ways.

What are your current goals for the season?

My goal this year is to help the Sheffield College finish top of the table in the Northern conference and also to be selected for Deng Camp.

Do you have any plans or goals for next season?

The next season is still a bit unclear, but I’m happy as long as I play basketball in the US, Europe or the UK.

What are you currently working on to take your game to the next level?

I am currently working on everything!

I’m trying to become a better overall player, but I’m primarily working on ball handling, shooting and becoming more versatile.

What advice would you give someone who is just getting started in basketball?

Train on the fundamentals and have patience, because you won’t see the results immediately, it could take months or even years.

Another piece of advice would be to give 100% each practice session. There is no point in training for 3 hours thinking you’re doing something when you’re not. It’d be better if you train for shorter periods of time but give it all you’ve got.

Who is your favourite basketball player and why?

My favourite player at the moment is Kawhi Leonard.

I know he might be boring to watch but the reason he’s my favourite player is because when he steps on the court his only thought is to win. He doesn’t care about what people think, all he wants to do is go out there and prove he’s one of the best ever.

I also like him because he takes a lot of pride in his defence and has an outstanding work ethic.

Main image credit – The Sheffield College

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