As he prepares to walk out onto the Brisbane practice court ahead of Team England’s impending Commonwealth Games campaign on the Gold Coast, Kofi Josephs is taking another step along a path he always knew he’d walk. But his journey started a long time ago as a young player in Birmingham, and he’s faced a lot of obstacles along the way. He’ll soon be flying up to Townsville with the rest of Team England, but for now there’s time for reflection on how far he's already come.
“It feels amazing being blessed with the opportunity to represent England at the Commonwealth Games,” said Josephs. “It’s the highest level for the England team and I'm honoured I was chosen. I feel its well-deserved and my hard work over the years has been recognised. I always believed I would reach the level I’m at now. I believe this isn't the top for me and there is more to achieve. But I’m happy to realised one of my goals by making it to the Gold Coast.”
Hard work is certainly something that isn’t in short supply for the 26-year-old, who like so many others found basketball through education. “My first taste of basketball was in primary school; my mentor Mr. Thompson passed a ball to me and told me to throw it!” recalls Josephs. “My first shot went in and after that he helped me to develop a love for the game. He would spend time helping me practice every day and he also introduced me to my first team.”
From that point, the sky was the limit for the talented guard. It didn’t happen overnight though and Josephs had to make some tough decisions as he progressed through the National League system on his way to become an England and Great Britain international. To do that, he made basketball his focus and didn’t stop in the pursuit of his goals. “I think leaving Birmingham at a young age was one of the biggest things for me. I was able to leave a lot of distractions behind and be around bigger basketball environments. From there I was able to go around the world and that’s developed me as a person, but even more so as an athlete.”
Moving from Birmingham to Reading brought with it progress and further steps along his journey. From there, Josephs headed to the States with stops in Arkansas and Colorado throughout an impressive collegiate career. After that, time spent in Germany and turning professional led to a call from the BBL’s Glasgow Rocks. But despite how far he’s come and what he’s had to work through, adversity was still a factor in his career. “I’ve faced a lot of challenges,” he said. “I've had two hip surgeries which almost made me step away from the game. That was one of the biggest things I've had to overcome as they came roughly 9 months apart. It was tough physically but even more so mentally.”
As far as Josephs goes in the game and what he’s already faced, remembering the people that helped him establish his career has always been paramount. “A lot of people have had huge impacts on me. Firstly Mr. Thompson, my mentor who introduced me to basketball, then my mom who's supported me from the beginning. Plus, my Uncle Patrick, who's just been a father figure that I've desperately needed. Between them, they’ve always helped with moral support, advice and helping me athletically.”
The 2018 Commonwealth Games are a long way to come for a youngster shooting his first hoops in a Birmingham primary school, but what would Josephs say to those wanting to emulate his journey? The answer is simple. Believe in yourself. “Trust the process and run your own race. It’s really hard to focus on what you need to do to get better when you're watching other players get what you feel you deserve. In the long run, focusing on yourself and what you need to do for your own career and journey is always best. We’re all on our own path that will be different for everyone, but grafting and doing what you need to do to be the best player you can be will eventually lead you to where you’re supposed to end up.”
Whatever happens at this year’s Games, one thing is certain. For Josephs, his journey still has a long way to go.