Name:  Keiron Achara

My job title: Former Professional Basketball Player. I was captain of the GB squad, competed in the 2012 Olympic Games and have also represented (and was captain for) Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

My typical day… It’s quite unique. When I was playing in Italy, we would have two training sessions a day, so I would get up early at 6/7am and train from 9am – 11am. I would then have a siesta before going back to training in the evening at either 6-8pm or 8-10pm. There was a lot of time in the day which was spare time, so while I was in Italy and Spain, I took Spanish and Italian lessons and in my last year I ended up going back to study a Masters degree. My advice to any young athlete is to use your time wisely and don’t waste it by sleeping all day!

My most memorable moment… It would have to be competing in the 2012 Olympic Games. It was a goal of mine to become an Olympian, so being told I was in the squad to play in a home tournament, in front of a home crowd, was an unbelievable feeling. The opening ceremony was so surreal, but I was filled with so much excitement.

Also completing my Masters – using my time management skills as a player to go and get further education and prepare me for life after sport was a big achievement. It gave me the confidence to succeed after playing the sport that I love.

The worst part of my job… Getting injured – injuries meant setbacks, but that’s what’s comes with the game. It’s a very physical game so there were a lot of injuries. When you’re injured and you can’t practice and play games, it can be mentally challenging not knowing what is going to happen. Also, not knowing where you’ll be the year following year. Usually basketball contracts were year to year, and I didn’t know where I would be the year after, so it was difficult to build a life outside of basketball.

The best part of my job… The travelling – I loved soaking up new cultures, living in new countries, meeting new people. Also playing sport for a living and getting to be on TV and be a role model to so many people is really meaningful to me.

Key skills/attributes needed to be a professional athlete… Having that belief that you are good enough. Believe in yourself that you are good enough to go for it, but also acknowledging that it’s not going to be forever. Time management skills – any good athlete knows how to balance their time – from getting good sleep, training and eating well and balancing things off the court. Resilience – there is going to be a lot of setbacks so you need to have the belief and purpose to continue and be the best you can be. Hard working ethic – without hard work you won’t make it to the highest level of basketball. Be a good team player – have good communication skills, be an active listener, have the ability to take criticism and use it to motivate you.

Advice for someone looking to go into something similar… Have realistic goals and think about your exposure. Without that exposure it can be very difficult, so create a CV that includes everything you have done as an athlete, get a game tape to show the kind of player that you are. Being an athlete is not enough and you need to make sure there is something else going on in the background. For me it was education, for others it can be developing new skills, working on public speaking or on branding.