A good title is earned from sheer hard work; that was Ondimo’s mantra in bowling. Ondimo, then a resident of Kansas State and originally from Senegal, was a promising young man in bowling. He had lived in the US for only two years following his travel to the US to pursue a bachelor’s degree at Kansas State University in Manhattan. Since joining the university, Ondimo had in many occasions associated himself with a private bowling sports club where he used to practice as an amateur.
Ondimo’s friend, Gabriel was a professional in lawn bowling with experience spanning over 15 years. Seeing himself growing older, then at 48 years, he had started edging out of the sport slowly. He complained frequently of lower back pain and a remote but irritating pain at his right shoulder. Gabriel knew perfectly well that he could not sustain the pain any longer in the game and always wanted to quit, but never found any opportune time to do so. He had excuses every time he contemplated quitting.
But this time, he had a reason; he had finally met someone whom he could pass the baton to. Ondimo!
“I have been in this sport for a long time now. I am ready to quit, but I would like to build you right on this one, so that you can be the best,” Gabriel said to Ondimo as they were resting in the lawn.
“Thank you, I really appreciate it,” Ondimo said making a face of a little boy talking to the father, “I am dedicated to work my way up. I am sure that with your wise guidance, I will tread greater heights.”
“That’s for sure,” Gabriel said assuringly, “I personally worked very hard to be where I am today. It is not just about getting out there and winning trophies and all the big trips, no; it is about the process, how you build yourself, utilize your subliminal strengths and work your way up the ladder to the top.”
“Most definitely, sir,” Ondimo said expecting more.
“When I started, I was told to my face myriad times that I was not talented, that I could not make it,” Gabriel uttered reminiscently, “I had to work on my own. I stopped focusing on the recognition and all the big name; I kept my focus on what I wanted to do, yes, it was bowling and that is why I am where I am.”
Gabriel had made a name around Kansas as a very astute individual in lawn bowling. He had inspired a number of players through his words, actions and demeanor that always remained professional and social at the same time. His ethics were beyond reproach. Gabriel was a role model to many.
He had something for Ondimo, a black youth from Africa, who had come to the land of opportunities to pursue his university education studying business. Gabriel had interacted with Ondimo the first time when they met in a business conference where a number of Kansas State University students were invited. They had held a small chat and that marked the beginning of their friendship. Ondimo developed an urge to have a word or two with Gabriel when he heard Gabriel’s intuitive talk that moved many.
Ondimo could remember every word of it. Gabriel had talked on personal development in general. It was not specific on bowling. Gabriel had mentioned determination, focus and unrelenting will as some of the fundamentals that would help one achieve big dreams.
Here they were, one and a half years later, together in the lawn chatting about Ondimo’s future in bowling.
“I will offer to teach you and connect you with a number of clubs and tournaments where you can build your skills,” Gabriel said confidently. Owing to his experience and enormous network, that wouldn’t be a problem.
Ondimo was tall, dark skinned, masculine, long levers with a young face. He always wore an innocent look and had great respect for the elderly. He took his time every evening to practice at the Bologn Members’ Club lawn where he had been introduced by Gabriel. Bologn Members’ Club partook in a number of sports, both amateur and professional. It was such a prestigious club that cost hundreds of dollars a week to be part of. The club pooled in young and old, rich and richer, black and white.
Throughout the time that he had been attending training at the club, Ondimo had made a number of contacts with a number of young people his age and even older. Gabriel, having been a member of the club for well over 15 years had further introduced Ondimo to several people including members of the management.
“I have something for you,” Gabriel said one evening walking towards where Ondimo was training. He was holding a piece of paper in his hand, reading and not keeping his horizon; he was looking at the paper as he was advancing towards Ondimo.
Ondimo stopped and put the ball down and turned looking at Gabriel. “What could it be, sir?”
“Nothing much, an amateur competition where you can get to meet a number of young people who have great potential as well,” he said handing Ondimo the paper, “If you think it is something for you, why not!”
Ondimo kept quiet as he raptly read the document.
Young Talents Competition – 12-25 year olds.
“Looks good, sir,” he said locking eyes with Gabriel, “I am in.”
“Great! I am part of the team organizing that competition and I will help you find your way there.”
“Oh, really? I am in again!” Ondimo said jokingly.
“Sure, you can get back to your training,” Gabriel said gesturing Ondimo to hand him the paper, “Pick it from me after your training.”
After his training that evening, he moved to the store together with some fellow bowlers to hand back the balls. When he was almost at the door, he met Gabriel coming out of the administration office which was adjacent to the store.
“Oh, before I forget, come pick the paper,” Gabriel said turning to head to the office.
“Okay, sir,” Ondimo replied, “I would remind you anyway.”
Ondimo went fast to the store and the headed to the administration office to pick the paper that contained the details of the Young Talents Competition. He got to the office and found Gabriel seated at his desk ruffling through papers on his desk.
“Crazy me, I can’t figure out where I put it,” Gabriel said looking embarrassed, “this is a very good indication that I should be retiring.”
“No, that is not a reason enough,” Ondimo said lacking a proper response, “everyone forgets some times. Could we maybe check on the internet if we could find the information?”
“Genius! That is exactly where I got the one I had printed,” Gabriel said looking up, “You see, it is high time I hanged the gloves.”
“Young Talents Competition, right?” Ondimo asked doubtingly.
“You sure got it,” picking his folder, “that’s it.”
“Just before you leave, we have more people joining from our club and we would like to organize for transportation and other necessary resources for the team,” Gabriel said checking through his pile of papers again, “This is the list of the youths who are planning to come.”
Ondimo picked the list.“Hello, we are also looking for someone to organize the team together and the resources since the person who has been in charge has been dismissed,” a lady who had been busy typing said looking up, “and… oh, sorry, my name is Mercy, I work here as the office administrator.”
“It’s alright! Ondimo here,” Ondimo said extending his hand to shake Mercy’s hand.
“Thanks,” she shook his hand, “As I was saying, we need someone to take charge of the team; to get to know who is joining and what is needed.”
She paused to look through some documents. “We need someone to coordinate the team, and work hand in hand with the driver and the office to figure out what will be needed and finally make sure that everything runs smoothly,” Mercy continued.
“Sounds plausible to me,” Ondimo replied.
“Your full name?”
“Bragmit Ondimo,” Ondimo replied.
Mercy typed something on the keyboard, looked at the screen for some seconds and turned to Ondimo. “You are the leading bowler amongst the youths here! I didn’t know that,” Mercy said surprised.
“I didn’t know either,” Ondimo replied blankly.
“Don’t you think we can have him here under a contract? If it is agreeable to him!” Mercy enquired with Gabriel.
“He is right here,” Gabriel replied looking at Ondimo to respond.
“Yes?” Mercy too looked at Ondimo.
“Yes!” Ondimo replied.
The position would see Ondimo take charge of all sports and only report to work in the evening at 4.30pm. That was workable with his school schedule. He would earn a lot of money if confirmed and be entitled to use every facility and have access to meals and extra time allowances as well.
“I will confirm and get back to you.”
“Courtesy of hard work, son,” Gabriel said.
The next morning, Gabriel called Ondimo to get to the Club and sign his new contract. Apart from having the good pay, he would be in charge of the youths at the club, he would have a free discretionary ticket to all events organized by the Club and he would also get free coaching in his sport of choice.
****** IT WAS DIFFICULT TO TURN IT DOWN ******