Dear past Kola,
It is I, your all wise and knowing future self. The first year of Shitsuke Flag Football is about to start and mate have I got a story for you.
By the 4th week of the first season you will call it quits with the Black Panthers. That Sunday, you will put up 2TDs, 2INTs and about 12 or so catches in a game Black Panther still lost by 2 scores. However, it is not until the following Thursday’s practice when only 2 people show up about an hour late that you will inform the owner (singular because at this point you will be down to just 1) about you wanting to quit.
For a bit of context, you’ll be the head coach for the Black panthers and your team will finish that season with a 0-8-1 record and probably have the highest player turnover rate that season (grim). Before that season begins, you’ll have no idea teams are being picked or that a league is coming. Then one Tuesday afternoon after a meeting in Oyo, you’ll see that a couple flag mates have hit you up but before you can follow the group chat and catch up – teams are already stacked and your guys are sorted out. You won’t know who’s a player or an owner or whatever but you’ll know you have no team.
Trogons will reach out and pick you up but after you say yes, they’ll message back and well…Allstar looking for reps.
Then, Chanel, (who’s truly amazing), will message you to join her team, you’ll have no idea who she is then but she will be straight up and let you know that she owns the last of the 4 teams but has only one player so far, you’ll wait for a bit to see if anyone else needs a player, but no dice.
Black Panthers all the way
By the way, that one player she had, turned out to be 2x Allstar and Sack King of SFF Nobunaga first of his name! Both of you will never miss a single game.
Over the next few days you’ll see your team roster and recognize only 3 people but more importantly recognize a lot of non-football people. Inevitably, you won’t choose the coach life. It will choose you.
Back to week 4, Black Panther will have every problem you can think. QB problem, depth problem, female players problem, players mentality, training ground problems, ownership issues, offensive and defensive problems, and the list goes on. So, when you received feedback that the way you speak when you coach, a job you didn’t sign up for was too negative and is one of the reasons Black Panther was losing, it won’t sit well. However, you are a winner so you will decide to show up early and be super positive to both training sessions that week. Unfortunately, only 5 people in total will show up that week, so after that Thursday practice you’ll tell the team your decision to quit.
But good work doesn’t go unnoticed, that night you’ll get a phone call from your only other teammate to never miss a game and he’s going to keep it short and honest
“we in this together and we gotta compete”
Winners don’t quit, that’s all there is to it.
Soon after you and William will have a conversation that makes you realize that the difference between the teams isn’t insurmountable then you will do what you do best and study everything you can find on coaching an amateur team.
From that point on the objective will be simple. Making sure each Black Panther player got all the help they needed to succeed on the field for whomever they play for, all the coaching points will teach just the basics, 18 plays will become 6, you will only coach what a player wanted to know allowing them drive their own growth, you will coach one player at a time, you will only comment on a players positive plays and allow them evaluate their own mistakes making them think more about the game and their individual roles. You will coach a family.
Piece by piece that family will grow, One Mallam looking Yoruba boy will sort out the offence, followed by an equally strange yellow man whose excitement for the game will match yours. All those pieces together will start to click, and on the last game of the season BP will cause the biggest upset game of the season to setup a Gidirons v Trogons final! No matter what any Anubis players tell you we played real damn hard that game and deserved to win.
That game will change everything because for the first time each and everyone will believe in something greater than themselves, so before the free agency even starts you guys will agree to come back for one more season together and if you think coaching new players is hard try coaching people who are suddenly professionals.
Off all the people you will try to recruit during free agency no one will join your team, fair. However, off all the players that finished the last game with you no one will leave! Hold fast and believe because everyone stepped up.
Que the wildest SFF season yet!!
A couple Trogons and Anubis players will form the Lagos Rebels and produce some ridiculous plays, watch out for those females. Bimbo and Tinuke will form the OG-Rays and show the young whippersnappers how it’s done, Lanre and Toks are still problems. The Trogons with Chris will put up some scary score lines but injuries are a pickle, beware of the slant! Playing the new Viper’s team will be your most beneficial coaching match-ups all season, Greg and his guys will pick up a lot quicker than the Black Panthers did so prepare accordingly. As far as success goes Gidigang will have a season for the ages racking up a 9-1 standing and 189 points, can’t fault that! The grind king Henry put a ring on it and Mark got to live out his receiver dreams (only 17).
But how about those Panthers!!!!
T.N.T will lace up and give you the catch of the season, Cheda and Bowen will bolster a receiving core lacking in depth, Tunji will put on a twinkle toes workshop all season, Nike who doesn’t like offence will become a route specialist, the draft will yield absolute gems in Shittu and Akuwgo, Ojay will double her amount of tackles and go to the Pro Bowl, Bare will lead the league in INTs and Tak in pick 6s, Zainob will have the highest completion ratio of all offensive players on the team, Ricky will do the same with TD’s…and play only 5 games, winning a netball tournament will also mean winning a new friend in Imose, Avatar will only break your heart once with his no look catches, Genevieve will start the season with back to back TD’s and the unending support of new owner Fumbi will drive it on and off the field.
A playoff win against the formidable Stingrays will punch your ticket to the big day and Chuma’s Rebels will put up the greatest comeback win in SFF history against the Gidirons (trust me you’re not ready).
What I want you to take away from all this is a genuine belief in people, not all people but enough of them to make the believing worthwhile, this league was created from a positive place and you’ll show that in each game you and your Panthers play. So, no matter the result of that game you’ll do a hell of a job and have a hell of a time.
To every single person who ever played a game for this team I wholeheartedly appreciate you.
Some people in the league still think the Panthers has time! but this Sunday….
Head Coach, Panthers.