By: Elizabeth Karchut
Four years ago, a young Dan Basambombo made his first football tackle with the Canterbury Mustangs peewee team of the National Capital Amateur Football Association. He finished the season with only one or two tackles. He has come a long way since then.
Fast-forward to 2015; Basambombo now averages five tackles a game. The linebacker is finding his place as an elite defensive player thanks to his hard work and dedication.
“Hard work beats talent,” Basambombo said. “When I started playing football, there were guys that were faster than me, bigger than me, event more talented than me, but I just go on wanted to become better.”
Prior to the 2015 Ontario Varsity Football League season, the linebacker took a year off for training purposes. “I came back and all the OFVL wanted me and I got some offers from a couple schools and everything is going pretty well.”
You can thank Basambombo’s friends and his inspiration, Ray Lewis, for getting him into football. His friends were the ones to invite him to try out, but it was the ex-linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens that ignited his passion for the sport and the position.
“I just wanted to play like him and I was playing my game like him. I wanted to play his position, I wanted to run like him, move like him and it was my motivation to be like him,” Basambombo said of Ray Lewis.
While he may have a handful of football heroes, it’s Basambombo’s dad that inspires him off the field. His dad worked hard to get him and his family to Canada from the Congo and although he doesn’t know football, he helps in any way he can. “He’s always been there ready to give me some money and give me life advice that I’m really thankful of,” Basambombo said.
Although Basambombo’s season ended on Sunday, August 2, he is able to look fondly on his time with the 2015 edition of the Cumberland Panthers.
“It was a good experience and I never had a chance to play with such a great team,” he said. “I played with a lot of different guys, a lot of different talent, a lot of new faces, a nice coaching staff and I just learned a lot from football this year.”
The OFVL is just a stop on the way for Basambombo, whose aim is to get accepted into a division one school in either the NCAA or CIS. And beyond that? The sky’s the limit for this talented linebacker.