Today live from New York we are with Christian Eyenga who made us the Pleasure to sit with us: Afropolitain magazine. We are going to use the opportunity to know more about you. Can you start by introducing yourself to all our readers.
CE: I’m Christian Eyenga, I’m a professional player and I was born in the DRC. I have evolved in Spain, here in the United States with Cleveland, Los Angeles Orlando and now in Italy.
K: So still in the Basketball?
CE: Still in basketball, always basketball.
K: So you were telling us that you went through several countries. Can you tell us a bit about your journey, how you came to the game? When did you leave the country?
CE: I left the country thanks to God, because it was thanks to him that I had the opportunity to be recruited by the agency “You First” with which I still work today. They took me to Spain in the training team in Barcelona and for my first professional year I played for the junior team. In 2009 I was drafted by Cleveland, then was transferred to Los Angeles, then to Orlando, I have spent a year in Poland, then Italy. This summer I’m still a free agent, so I’m waiting for offers. But I do not want to think about it because I’m on vacation, I train and I wait to see what will come out. I think it’s between Italy and Spain.
K: Speaking of basketball, do you prefer European or American basketball?
CE: It’s two different leagues. The European basketball is much more tactics than the U.S basketball which is more physical. It is more Showtime. But when you’re professional, it’s your job and I like it and I get paid for it.
K: If you can play you’re there…
CE: That’s it
K: Perfect, perfect … So you said you were born in Congo, Kinshasa (243) for those who do not know. (I come from 242) So you frequently go back to the country?
CE: Every summer, there are basketball camps organized by my agency (You First). For the last 10 years we have have brought more than 15 players in Europe which are evolving on professional teams, plus more academics in training. I take this opportunity to see my family.
K: So basically when you go back home it’s basketball, family, a little bit to recharge your batteries. Typical Congolese Question: Are you a Sapeur or not?
CE: Me? Not really. I like to be well dressed, it’s in the blood, you want to represent. But I’m not a Sapeur, I leave it to the real ones.
K: What is your favorite Congolese dish?
CE: madesu and rice and the macayabu White beans with tomato sauce and salted fish
K: In terms of music what do you like?
CE: I like everything! I lived and played on all five continents. I love African music: ndombolo, afrobeat. American hip hop and basketball go together. I had the chance to play in Spain so I listen to reggaeton and salsa.
K: So you’re eclectic as they say
CE: yes exactly
K: To return a little to basketball, a few months ago we had the opportunity to interview Serge (Ibaka) who did us the honor to be our first cover. In the photos he sent me, I saw you in the things he was doing in the country. Is it important for you to go back to the country and Give Back, to make sure that the African youth feel loved and that she sees that international players come back and create opportunities for them?
CE: Yes it’s important, Serge is one of my best friends. We left Congo for Spain and for the United States with a one year gap. It is a pleasure for me to be invited by Serge to his camps. I am happy to give this hope to the young, through the serge camp. There is still the Hope even if Africa is not developed like Europe or America. But gives the Hope that if I work hard, someday I can become a Serge or like Christian Eyenga.
K: What advice would you give to young athlete who wants to leave the country?
CE: Now there’s internet, and discover of African talent. My agency discovers talent like that. There will be many people who will tell you about “I am a very good agent, you have to leave the country” As soon as you arrive here you are abandoned in the street asking for money.
K: So pay attention regarding coaching
CE: yes that’s it and in addition to that work a lot the frst month. Outside the field you have to be discipline stuff like that. Apart that work with passion.
K: Well, we have some tips for the young athletes who will listen to us. Personal questions … Are you married?
CE: Zero! I’m not married, I have no children, I’m single. No fiance, no girlfriend. I’m free
K: He’s Free (laughter). My last question, what do you think about the future?
CE: Future … I like basketball too much, I’ll try to stay in the business. I’m going to do scouting or coaching but I think a lot more in scouting. To find the new African players, because there are too many talents under the radar in Africa. With my agency I will go further in the villages and find the guy who measures 2’10 who is sleeping on his potential and give him that chance.
K: I have another question, now that you have played in basketball leagues. How to create leagues in our countries? For African basketball to evolve.
CE: I think it’s just the organization of our government. I will not put much pressure on our it because it already has to improve the country. But I think he must take a small step to organize a little. Put the same effort in any other sport in the country (basketball, handball…) than in football. There is a lot of talent in the country who want to play but there is no organization.
K: The problem if I understand correctly is that the African federations do not reach out international players for competitions?
CE: Yes, I was talking about that to my buddy (Bismarck) who wanted to play for the selection, just like me. There are more Congolese players in the NBA and in Europe than all the other african countries. Nobody called them. I can pay for my ticket, my accommodation. For me it is an honor to play for me country. But how am I going to know that we are qualified?
K: Federations must be more organized to ensure that players abroad know they have to return to the country to participate in competitions.
CE: That’s it.