This is Samuel’s story. An in-depth interview about his educational path, Hockey Dreams, career and the Youth Olympic Games. An inspiring story from an ambitious hockey legend whose adventures are still far from over.
How it all began
Hi Samuel, how are you doing?
Hey, all good. I cannot complain. Life has its ups and downs but these are part of the journey. Waking up every day with a goal set to be achieved is the most beautiful thing. Working hard for something that you do not love is stress but working hard for something you do love is passion. The passion I have for my job gives me the energy to keep standing the entire day. I consider every day a success as long as I am doing something that keeps me happy. Working as a sports teacher at LICS (Lusaka International Community School) with my students besides me gives me the happiness and motivation to go to work every day. Sometimes I do not even realise the weekend has started.
In 2012 we started Hockey Dreams Foundation (formerly named Kadish Foundation) in Zambia. How or in what way did you join the programme and what did its startup-phase look like?
When Hockey Dreams was first discussed in a meeting I knew it was going to be a success, therefore I was willing to give it my best. We had to apply in order to be recruited for the programme and I was so fortunate to be accepted in with my other two colleagues. Setting up a platform for the development of young independent athletes was our aim.
In the beginning, it was not easy because the sport was still considered to be unknown to the community. We had to preach and share our vision. These challenges were highly expected beforehand and therefore we were ready to tackle them in a good manner. The community responded with so much positivity which was a huge plus too.
In what way did you develop yourself as Hockey Dreams Coach throughout the years?
It is always a challenge to start something but once you are in control you get to learn throughout this particular challenge. As it is said, there is no growth in comfort zone. I made a lot of mistakes and I still do.
As a young coach I was so eager to share the little I had learnt and therefore I read some books on South African-hockey to expand my knowledge. Hockey Dreams Foundation (back then named Kadish Foundation) scheduled sessions with Elly van der Vinne. It is within these sessions I learnt to change and finetune a few things to suit the needs for the players I was coaching.
A few years later coaching courses were organised by ZHA (Zambian Hockey Association) and FIH (International Hockey Federation). These courses really pushed me and have made me see everything from a different perspective.
Could you tell more about your work as a sports teacher at LICS (Lusaka International Community school)? How did you get this job?
During my Hockey Dreams trip to the Netherlands in 2016 I learnt a lot. For instance, I was invited to help at a camp at the Laren Mixed Hockey Club. It was at this club that I met a South African school which had a tour to the Netherlands. The school was interested in my services but I had to give it thought and I wanted to seek for advice on this matter a bit more.
After doing so, I felt it was more worth staying In Zambia to keep inspiring and educating for now, but when I went back to Zambia it was not easy to earn a living as life was demanding for more and more. It was during this hard period of time that I was recruited at Lusaka International Community School (LICS) as an afternoon activity coach. I worked at LICS for four months when I was offered a job as an Assistant PE teacher which is the role that I have had until this very day.
What is the top three of things you are teaching your kids?
The three main teachings towards my students are:
- Humility, this the quality of being humble and not thinking you know better, or know more etc.
- Respect, in different kinds: respect for yourself, respect for others, respect for rules, respect for life, respect for the environment and many more.
- Honesty, this is when you speak the truth and act truthfully; nothing more nothing less.
The Youth Olympic Games and African hockey
Let us rewind to 2018 for a moment. The Youth Olympic Games with your team and you as their coach … Something magical happened here. How do you look back on this year?
2018 will forever be remembered as one of the best year of hockey; not just in Zambia but in Africa as a whole. I am not looking back with pride but rather humbleness because a lot of people worked behind the scene too to make everything possible. Going to the Youth Olympic Games as the underdogs gave us an extra motivation, as we were ready to make a mark.
Could you give an impression of this dreamlike-experience and of your team’s achievements during this Olympic event?
Our aim was not just to be there without being noticed but to fight for everyone back home. We were the same kids who started under Kadish (former Hockey Dreams Foundation) and Tuelings programme. The aim was to give back the opportunity we were given. We felt so ecstatic with our achievement but as usual there is always demands from within for more.
Would you say the Youth Olympic Games made an impact on African hockey?
The YOG has made an impact on African hockey as every nation envies the achieved successes, in a good way. This development means more competition from other countries and this will definitely improve hockey overall in Africa.
What are your prospects for African hockey in general?
I would say more tournaments are going to be organised to give more youths more stage to perform.
Do you think the world will be surprised by African Hockey? How can we be a part of its future?
There’s a lot we can do for the future of African hockey. We have to keep inspiring the future generations by staying in the game and making more progress. And also important: Sharing what it means to be an Olympian and what it brings to the community, country and continent at large.
Education and career
You are studying Physical Education at the university. How do you apply your education in your daily job as a sports teacher?
Being at university studying Physical Education has always been a long-held ambition. Studying PE has made me learn all about the skeletal system of a sportsman. The knowledge acquired from the university is beneficial in the sense that it is going into the implementation of my own teaching at LICS.
How important is having a diploma in Zambia?
Being ‘certified’ means having the passport for a better job. In simple terms it means you are eligible to do a certain job. Without certification it is hard to get employment.
Education is the most powerful thing in life. It discovers the meaning behind everything and helps improving lives. Education helps us to understand the world around us. No education means you do do not have the right passport to a better future. I have seen a lot losing their potentials and opportunities because they did not have education. Education is the most precious gift that someone can ever give. Education is worth more than diamond, gold and silver.
The lack of education has killed more people than any other disease I know. It plays a big role in our society that can never be fully explained. Without education in my life it would have been like breaking a diamond with my teeth. I do not have a clue where I would have been. Chasing the paper is the only solution I have found.
The number of school dropouts in Zambia are high due to the lack of funds in high school and university. Attending university is expensive which leads people into industrial jobs which are in high demand but the salary is low. A lot of youths are indulging themselves in drug abuse and non-future related stuff because they lack education.
What are your wishes in relation to you career?
My wish is to be well-equipped so that I can help and guide the future generation who are aiming high in their careers. It is my dream to see Zambia producing more elite athletes than it does now.
Samuel and Hockey Dreams Foundation
You and Hockey Dreams. In what way are you still involved with our programmes and coaches?
Hockey Dreams Foundation will forever be my home and therefore I will never neglect or run away from its goals. I am still in contact with most of the coaches checking up on how they are making progress in both their work and projects.
How do you expect to be involved with Hockey Dreams in its future?
I think I can be very helpful to HDF by sharing my little knowledge with the coaches who are newly-joining the Hockey Dreams-programme.
What does the name Hockey Dreams mean to you? Did the HDF family help giving purpose to your hockey life, and, if this is the case, in what way?
Hockey Dreams Foundation is like a parent to me in a way that no matter how successful you can be in your life you can never be bigger than your parents. Hockey Dreams has given me the opportunity to dream big. Its cause gave everything, the love is unconditional and forever in my heart.
What I think is important too is that HDF has given me the platform and support to learn through mistakes, which to me is the best thing you can ever have.