Consistency is encouraged in sports, it is believed that when you start at a young age in one field, you can be among the very best but for some, like Michael Jordan, it isn’t unheard of to shine in two fields.
For 16-year-old Daniel Bardi, he started out as a footballer and then fell in love with basketball.
Born in Birmingham in the United Kingdom, Bardi told PUNCH Sports Extra why he switched sports.
“I first started out as footballer, and I was really good and getting scouted, but then five years ago, I started playing basketball as a hobby but realised I had potential. Whenever I am on the court and I am playing the sport, it helps takes my mind off other stress and I can focus,” he said.
“My parents supported me when I informed them (of switch to basketball), they always see potential in me since I was playing football and wanted me to do what’s best for me so I am happy to have them in my life.”
The teenager of Nigerian descent from Delta State has already started winning competitions in England while representing his school, Queen Ethulburgas’ basketball team.
“In 2023, I competed at the U-18 North Premier, which is against some of the best players in the UK and we made a good run in the competition,” the 6ft shooting-guard told PUNCH Sports Extra.
“We also participated at the U-16 conference where we won a national title and also won a schools title, it is a very high-level competition where we go against players who are looking to represent the country.”
Also capable of playing as a point guard, Bardi dreams of furthering his academics to a higher level in forensic science and then pursue a basketball career overseas.
“I want to study forensic science while also pursuing basketball and hopefully play overseas for a bit, everyone dreams of playing in the NBA, I do also.”
Set to turn 17 on June 25, 2024, Bardi also told PUNCH Sports Extra how he almost quit basketball when he felt he wasn’t playing enough games as he should.
“I felt like quitting basketball before. There was a time when I felt I was not getting treated well and my hard work was going to waste because I was always sitting on the bench but I did not complain. I was patient and things changed for the better and now I am a starter on the school team,” he said.
Most basketball players have someone they look up to, and for the British-Nigerian teenager, his role model is Philadelphia 76ers Tyrese Maxey, who also plays as a shooting guard and point guard.
“Maxey is my role model and I try to replicate my game after him and he is someone who inspires me a lot to do what I do, I like how he shoots and never gives up even on tough plays,” Bardi told PUNCH Sports Extra.
His father, Patrick Bardi, who left Nigeria for the United Kingdom 20 years ago, said he initially was not pleased because he saw a future for him in football but he had no choice when he saw his son’s passion for the rubber ball over the leather ball.
“Initially, I wasn’t impressed because he was doing very well in football and was also being scouted by few clubs for their feeders club. It was looking like he was going to take up football, but from nowhere he started talking of basketball, buying basketball games and no longer FIFA games. I had no choice to lean into his choice since it is his career,” he said.
The Delta-native also told PUNCH Sports Extra that he believes his son would make it to a national team based on his potential and he plans to encourage him to represent Nigeria internationally.
“I have no doubt that he will make it to national teams and most probably end up in NBA, going by his track record and performance,” he told PUNCH Sports Extra.
“Of course, I will support him to join D’Tigers if he is called up. I am a proud Nigerian and would be happy to see my son represent the country in sports.”
They say it takes a village to raise a child and the Bardi family is doing just that as the entire household supports his interest in basketball with one of his siblings attending most of his games.
“It’s not only me supporting him,” Patrick told PUNCH Sports Extra.
“The whole family has always supported him, especially his sister Angel, who goes to watch and cheer him up during games in the school.”