For me, I have never lost, I always learn.

-Joakim Gouamba

Joakim Gouamba is a 6 ‘2 guard, shooter and scorer for Dynastie Prep located in Montreal. He is driven, optimistic and has had a love for basketball ever since he could remember. Dynastie Prep recently competed in the True North Prep National Championship (TNPNC), and I was able to catch up with Joakim and discuss the championship, what it’s like being a part of Dynastie Prep, what’s next for him, and more.

Tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Joakim Gouamba. I’m originally from Ivory Coast in West Africa. I have one little brother and two older sisters. My father introduced me to my love of basketball, as back in the day, he was a professional basketball player in Europe. He used to train me when I was little, and it’s because of him (is) why I play basketball. I left my country when I was 15 years old and came to Dynastie to play basketball. I have now been here for 5 years and I am enjoying it.

How has it been playing for Dynastie Prep?

At Dynastie, I have learned a lot. Over here, basketball is different than in my country – how we play here, the intensity, everything is different, so I have learned a lot. I learned how to be a man, how to count on myself, be independent – cook my own meals, clean my room, and really grow up. I’m really proud of myself while I’ve been learning everything they’ve been teaching me.

Playing basketball here, I’ve learned a lot of things that have helped me become who I am right now. I’ve also learned how to work and study hard, maintain good grades and balance being a student athlete, as although I play basketball, I am a student first.

What was your experience like playing in the True North Prep National Championships?

I’ve never experienced that level of basketball before, so I was very impressed. Since I’ve been here, I’ve struggled a bit to adapt myself to Canadian basketball, so playing in that league was a big thing for me. I had the chance to play against some great players and teams, and I’m really grateful and proud that Dynastie had the opportunity that the True North and The Platinum Circuit (TPC) gave us.

How do you handle the pressure of high-level games such as the championships?

Championship games are tough. Before the game, I stay in my comfort zone. I listen to music, and try my best to stay focused. Sometimes I meditate and try to remain poised, while remembering what I came here to do. I’m a religious soul, I pray before every game.

How do you handle and stay motivated after a loss?

For me, I have never lost, I always learn. Every game I always learn from my mistakes. I watch my tapes, talk to my coaches to get feedback, figure out any problems, and how I can improve to be the best player and show my best self for the next game. 

How do you feel about your performance this season?

This season I’m just getting back from an injury. Last year I didn’t play because I had a shoulder injury. I know that this season I didn’t give it all that I’ve got because I’m a little bit cautious about my injury, but I’m also proud of what I did this season. 

I still played hard, played some defense, shared good moments with my teammates, we played well and even though we didn’t make it to the finals in the TNPNC championship, but we played as a team, as a unit, and of course, we won the championship in the TPC, so I am proud. 

What has been your favourite game performance so far in your career?

In the EIBC league, we played in the playoffs in Arizona against the Red Rocks and I was able to really show what I was capable of. I had a great performance and it was one of my best games this season – defensively, offensively, it was great, and I keep trying to maintain this level of greatness. 

How have your relationships with coaches and teams helped shape you?

At Dynastie, we’re all family. The coaches and my teammates are like brothers to me. We share a lot of things such as stories from our countries, we learn everything together. We live, cook, learn, play ball and have fun together. 

How important is sportsmanship?

Sportsmanship is very important because the relationships that you build when you play sports is very important. These relationships can also help you beyond basketball. It’s important to stay respectful and gracious in this game. 

How has the support of your family and friends impacted you?

My family has helped me a lot. They have made a lot of sacrifices to help me come here, train and have the best opportunities that I can have. They encourage me to keep chasing my dream. I always remember that my family is counting on me, and it helps me stay focused, and keep working hard on my dreams. 

Whenever I’m down, they cheer me on and lift me up. Outside of basketball they encourage me to work hard on my school work and get good grades. They encourage me to keep grinding as I will be successful in the end. 

What is your favourite basketball sneaker?

I would say Kyries. I move a lot so I’m very comfortable in Kyries. [Laughs]

Who is your favourite basketball player?

Russell Westbrook. When he played at OKC he was fire. Even now – he is my all time favourite basketball player. 

What are your goals, and what do you hope to achieve as a basketball player?

My ultimate goal is to make it to the NBA. If I have that chance, I will put my all into that goal. I know it’s not easy and a low percentage of players actually make it to the NBA, and I still have a lot to do, and have a lot to learn, but it’s still one of my goals and I know that I can do it. 

My smaller goals are getting a scholarship, keep grinding, keeping good grades at school and just to keep giving my best.

What’s clear in talking to Joakim is that he has a bright future ahead of him. He is clear on his goals, has a great support system, but most of all, he believes in himself and puts no limitations on what he can do. A star in the making, he is paving his way, with many more moments to come.

Photo courtesy Faz Visions

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