Samuel Toluwase: Leeds Force will be stronger for lessons learned

Feeling the force: Samuel Toluwase in action last Friday night on his competitive debut for a new-look Leeds Force. Unfortunately for them, they were beaten heavily by the Newcastle Eagles, who racked up a league record 148 points at the Carnegie Sports Arena. (Pictures: Alex Daniels)
Feeling the force: Samuel Toluwase in action last Friday night on his competitive debut for a new-look Leeds Force. Unfortunately for them, they were beaten heavily by the Newcastle Eagles, who racked up a league record 148 points at the Carnegie Sports Arena. (Pictures: Alex Daniels)
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For a bunch of guys who don’t know each other – all from different walks of life – I think we’ve competed the best that we can so far.

Leeds Force have had a new coach, a new structure and new organisations all built within less than two weeks.

Samuel Toluwase in action last Friday night (Pictures: Alex Daniels)

Samuel Toluwase in action last Friday night (Pictures: Alex Daniels)

I’m very proud of the team for coming out against Newcastle and performing in the circumstances – all we can do now with our philosophy is to build momentum from what we were then, to where we want to be.

We can compete with the Sheffield Sharks on Friday; our philosophy is always to combat the negatives and move forward.

We’ll have the same approach against Sheffield as we did against Newcastle, but we’ll work even harder to try and get the win.

We’re not going to dominate every team in the league, but we’re here to win some games and to show that we can compete.

I always drill professionalism into myself, because no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you must do it to the best of your abilities.

Samuel Toluwase

Whether we win or lose, Leeds Force need to show a sense of professionalism, especially for our fans who turn up night in, night out.

We need to give our fans that respect, and show that we appreciate you for coming to every game.

Coach Danny Nelson is trying to instil a sense of professionalism, which is something some players do need, especially those who haven’t played professionally before.

Being positive is something we need to be doing as a new team, and coach is helping us with that.

Samuel Toluwase in action last Friday night (Pictures: Alex Daniels)

Samuel Toluwase in action last Friday night (Pictures: Alex Daniels)

The expectation of me, as a player, is to be a leader and I like things to be organised – I’m glad that coach Nelson and I are on the same page regarding that.

After the previous Manchester Giants coach was released, I was told I wasn’t going to make their team this year.

My focus is professionalism, and off the court there were a lot of things there that I didn’t agree with ethically.

I couldn’t stand back, and there had to be some things that were pointed out before I left for Leeds Force.

I’m currently studying a theatre practitioner course at Sheffield Hallam University, and I’m doing so with all my focus and at 100 per cent. If I’m not there, I’m here giving the team and basketball all my effort.

That professionalism in all aspects of life is what you need and what is expected of you as a mature and experienced player. I haven’t stopped playing basketball since I turned professional, and the crucial aspect of balancing basketball and my academic work is consistency.

I always drill professionalism into myself, because no matter where you are or what you’re doing, you must do it to the best of your abilities.

I grew up in London, watching the London Towers BBL team every day, so basketball was always there for me growing up.

My first professional team was in Gran Canaria, but if I had started in England, I’d have wanted to grow up and learn to play in the university system.

If you’re from the UK and you have the chance to play for a university basketball team, you should take the opportunity – if you really want to play the game in the UK, university is the best way to go.

Money has been falling away from British basketball and the BBL for a while, but everything’s slowly starting to pick up.

Tournaments like the All Stars Championship at The O2 Arena last month have really helped grow basketball in this country, which should help GB basketball achieve and succeed going forwards.

Back to Force and we face a tough week on the road this weekend.

First up, as mentioned, it’s that Yorkshire derby with Sheffield Sharks at the English Institute of Sport on Friday night (7.30pm). Come down and give us a bit of support if you can.

Then on Sunday we’re all the way down in the south-west to face the Plymouth University Raiders, tip-off 4pm at Plymouth Pavilions.

I hope you enjoyed this first column, I’ll be back next week.

In the meantime, #WeAreForce

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Leeds Force coach Danny Nelson.

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