Why we celebrated our historic victory with fun – Temi Fagbenle

Temi 1

By Nehru Odeh

Temi Fagbenle is over the moon and has every reason to celebrate her historic win. Not only is she the captain of London Lions, the women’s basketball team that recently won the European title by beating Besiktas, but It is the first British basketball team – male or female – to do so. And to celebrate that victory Fagbenle and her teammates went out of their way to celebrate it with so much fun.

“We spent a lot of time in the locker room after the game. We had a great time. We laughed at each other and there were a couple of jokes. We threw Stella [Kaltsidou, the head coach] in the ice bath fully clothed and we shaved our strength and conditioning coach’s beard – that was a bet he made with somebody. There were different shenanigans.

“We then went to a bar for a few drinks but it wasn’t a late one – it was midweek so things closed early. I’m getting old, too, so I realized I’m not up for staying up late!” Fagbenle told Telegraph Sport

Fagbenle, who was open about the joy she felt, also spoke about so many things that bordered on her stuff. She said the celebration was not just for the one win but also for the historic season.

“It’s not just that one win; the whole season has been quite historic for us. It’s been amazing to see the effect on the whole of the British basketball community and especially the youth, to see the joy and excitement on their faces when they come to games. To see that love and support is amazing. It wasn’t like this when I first started basketball,” she noted.

Still, though still basking in the euphoria of that historic win, Fagbenle’s joy is not full. Reason: Despite that historic win, it has been a bittersweet experience for her since the London Lions are unlikely to be able to defend their European title next season because of the funding issues the club is facing. She is, however, grateful for what she and her teammates have done for British Basketball and London, her hometown.

“It’s bittersweet at the end of the day. I’m so thankful that we’ve done this for British basketball and in my home town of London. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. A lot of things are up in the air now. I don’t know who is staying given the funding situation. Playing in Europe is something I want to do, so I won’t be returning as it stands, although I’ve made no concrete decisions about where I’m playing next season,” she explained.

Asked what was the one rule she would like to change in the sport, Fagbenle, who described herself as passionate, nurturing, and humorous, said it would maybe have to do with referees and not being able to express “too much passion” when a call doesn’t go your way.

Still, one fascinating thing about the captain of the London Lions is that though she is currently a British citizen, she is in touch with her Nigerian roots and global politics. Not only is she familiar with the music scene in Africa, but she is also conversant with Nigerian cuisine, especially the local delicacies of the Yoruba.

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“Now we’re talking! I love Chinese and Vietnamese food, so for a starter, I’d have a hot and sour soup. My main would be something Nigerian because I love Nigerian mains. I love the dish efo riro [a spinach stew] and I’d have that with pounded yam, iyan. I don’t do dairy so dessert would be some non-dairy ice cream with apple pie,”.

Asked again what song gets her on the dance floor and what her dream three-course meal was, Fagbenle said anything Afrobeats. She also said she was into South African music as well as amapaiano. “South Africans are the best dancers in the world,” she chipped in.

Fagbenle also spoke about herself, the late American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, former South African President Nelson Mandela, and Tennis legend Roger Federer as people she would like to meet, dead or alive

“My thoughts are going towards civil rights leaders in America, African civil rights leaders… I would love to meet Nelson Mandela for sure, to talk about his journey and his life. I’d love to pick his brains.

“If I was to pick a sportsperson… I love tennis so it would probably be Roger Federer. He was just at the top of the game for so long and elite in so many ways on and off the court.

However, she said if she could have one superpower it would be the ability to put love that would solve all the problems in anyone’s heart, since according to her if people put love first, it would be so good.

Still, despite the feat she has achieved, she is conscious of her Achilles heels, which, according to her, is procrastination.”I have a lot on my mind and a lot to do. Getting things done has always been hard for me, even through school. I’ll wait until the last minute and then get everything done, but it’s not good for my health at all.

Temi Fagbenle

Fagbenle doesn’t want to be anywhere or anyone else other than where she is right now. And she doesn’t have any most prized possessions. “I don’t value possessions, so nothing comes to mind. I value experiences and time with loved ones.

What has been her favorite holiday? “When I was growing up, our family would always go to a caravan site for the Easter holidays. We would have such a great time, all fitting in our caravan in the small beds and having family dinners around the small table. It was a great bonding experience.

And the best book she has ever read? “The one that comes to mind is Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It talks about logotherapy and the kind of outlook you should have on the world to get through hard times. I loved it.”

Asked what was the best advice she had ever received, she said: “I like to go back to ‘This too shall pass’. Everything in this life is fleeting and transient, and things change all the time, so whether I’m feeling down or elated, it’s having the knowledge that this too shall pass. It makes me feel more grateful. Anything I’m going through, whether a good or bad thing, I know it will pass so I stay in the moment and feel it, Fagbenle, who said The Cube was the reality show she would like to feature in, averred.

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