Throughout the 2017-18 season, U SPORTS sits down with one key athlete, coach, and staff member of each U SPORTS athletic program in our new interview series “Getting to know…”
Name: Tofa Fakunle
Sport: Men’s soccer
Year of eligibility: Fifth
Program: Psychology and Business
Hometown: Calgary, Alta.
- What attracted you to UNBC?
I came to the University of Northern British Columbia in order to build a program and try something new. I was recruited by the former coach Alan Alderson and he gave me the opportunity to come to UNBC to create and build a program in a place not many people thought it could be done in. That challenge was something I was not prepared for at first, but with the guidance of team mates and the community of Prince George I learned that we could achieve the goal of building a solid program with good people. The small class sizes and the love you would feel from the community are two things I was told I would love about UNBC and I am glad to say that I have experienced both of those things since day one.
- What’s your favourite memory, and your greatest athletic achievement as a U SPORTS student-athlete?
My favourite memory will forever be watching the last game of the regular season between Trinity Western and Victoria, as we needed TWU to win in order for us to make our first Canada West playoffs. It’s no secret that I really wanted to make the playoffs in my last year at UNBC as it has been a goal that I have been striving to for a while. The team watched the game live at my good friend Alex Nielson’s family home. There were moments of sadness as it looked as if we would not make the postseason, but at the end there was nothing but pure happiness which led to incredible scenes. That night will forever be my favorite moment.
- Where are you hoping your path will take you after university?
I love the game of soccer and I would love to get involved in coaching and hopefully one day be the coach of a program that attracts good players but also exceptional people.
- Who’s had the greatest influence on your athletic career?
The greatest influence on my athletic career has got to be the current coach of the team. Steve Simonson is an incredible coach and a fantastic person. He changed the culture of the program and really brought the team together which really pushed us to recognize that yes, the results of the games do matter, but the memories we will make with each other are just as important. That lesson really made me enjoy every single part of being on the team and not just caring about wins, losses, and ties. He also helped us to develop as a leaders. I still struggle everyday with being a leader, but he gave me a chance and I’ll always be forever grateful for his patience that he’s had with me.
- Who is someone in the sports world, past or present, with whom you’d love to have dinner with? Why?
I would love to have dinner with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. There are different ways to teach the game of soccer but in my opinion nothing is better than the way Pep teaches it. He is a legendary coach in my mind and he always seems to make the best players in the world become even better. I would want to know how he really does it, what his secrets are and how he motivates and teaches the gets the best to get even better.
- What is your pre-game ritual? Do you have any superstitions/idiosyncrasies around preparing yourself for a game?
I try to eat at least 3.5 hours before the kickoff. I like to eat some salmon, rice, and kale salad. I make sure I drink enough water during the day and just try to get my body right. I also pray that nobody on either team gets injured and that my team wins before every game right before kickoff.
- What’s your go-to song to get pumped up for practice or a game?
If you know me, then you know I love Drake. My go-to song recently has been God’s Plan and I will listen to it on repeat as it makes me happy and want to dance.
- What’s your favourite social media account to follow?
@houseofhighlights, as I love watching the best basketball plays by superstars such as Lebron James, Steph Curry, and James Harden. I spend too much time on Instagram because of that account.
- If you could try another sport, what would it be and why?
It would 100 per cent be basketball. I am not tall enough to play basketball but I love it and if I could dunk like Lebron, shoot like Kobe, and pass like Magic, I would be playing basketball.
- What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you as an athlete?
Getting a red card for saying something that came out in the wrong way. I’ve tried to be on best behaviour with referees ever since but that was definitely the most embarrassing thing that has happened to me.