Your Name: Ike Nwankwo
Job Title: CEO & Founder of Top Flight Basketball Co., Ltd.
What is your nationality and background?
I am an American originally from Houston, Texas in the United States where I have lived most of my life. I lived in Los Angeles California where I went to school on a basketball scholarship at UCLA.
What is your profession?
I am an ex-professional basketball player who played 15 years at the highest levels of the game of basketball.
I am now Founder, CEO, and Head coach of the Top Flight Basketball Academy based here in Bangkok. I and my wonderful team of coaches and administrators have been operating the academy since 2010 when I retired from professional basketball.
What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
My role is to not only teach kids the fundamentals of the game of basketball, the game that has given me so much, but also to impart to my students with important life lessons about hard work, accountability, leadership, goal setting, honesty, and friendship.
My main responsibility is to be a role model to my kids, that is a responsibility that I take very seriously, a responsibility that dictates every decision I make every day. I don’t ever want to disappoint my students, parents or the community that looks up to me.
How did you get involved in your profession?
I have been playing basketball since I was 7 old, so I have over 35 years of experience with the game. It was at age 7 that I had a huge growth spurt where I grew to the point that I could look my father in the eye, so my parents encouraged/forced me to play the game. At first I didn’t want to play basketball — my first passion was football but after watching Michael Jordan for the first time on TV, I was mesmerized. I knew from that moment basketball is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?
I believe my role as head coach inspires kids to be the best person they can be. It is my goal to instill in them a sense of confidence that extends to all areas of their life not just on the basketball court. I tell my students all the time that even if they haves dreams that lay outside of basketball, the lessons they learn in our program will help them achieve whatever dreams they have in life.
What challenges do your face in this role?
My main challenge is introducing a game that is not as popular in this part of the world where football (soccer) is king. Basketball is a relativity new sport and not many people in Thailand grew up watching the NBA on TV. That being said, we have made a tremendous amount of progress the past 6 years in educating kids about the game of basketball. The sport has gained a tremendous amount popularity in this time, I like to think that we have had a hand in that.
What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
My goal is to have basketball to be the most popular sport in Thailand. I want to share the joy of this beautiful sport which I love. I also want to be the coach of the first Thai Player to play in the NBA one day, I want them to come from Top Flight.
Who or what inspires you?
My mother is my ultimate inspiration me. She is a huge role mode for me and the person I admire most in the world. Her hard work and determination has been a tremendous source of pride and motivation for me. She has taught me so many lessons about the rewards of hard work and never giving up on your dreams! (I love you Mommy!!!)
Only a Bangkok local would know…
The best time to be in Bangkok is during Songkran when everyone goes away for the holiday. The city is so much less congested and crowded. That is the best time to explore and enjoy the beautiful city and everything it has to offer.
For more information on Top Flight Basketball, please click here.