In Canada within the game of football there aren’t too many people that have really spent time on building a community. Often when you hear of a success story of a Canadian athlete you hear of the help they got from a coach throughout their process but for the most part you as an outsider aren’t given the exact breakdown of how the athlete got to where they are today whether that is division one, CIS or even the professional level. For Ottawa native Wesley Tshimanga, he hopes to change that. Tshimanga signed to play with the University of Ottawa over the summer and has made sure to let people know that his journey wasn’t easy and is also motivating a lot of younger athletes with a platform he created with “Weezy Football.”
Tshimanga said in an interview with me, “It (my journey) was never easy. Life isn’t easy and with my platform I want to show that I am where I am because of hard work and a lot of other people are in the same boat, it’s time people recognize that hard work is what makes a successful person. That’s what got me to where I am today and I am continuing to do it so I can be proud of the journey I take.”
The journey which “Weezy” is on started on the west side of Ottawa. He started to play football with the Bel Air Lions at the age of 13 in the city league, NCAFA. At the time he was bigger than most of the other kids on his team and was actually on the offensive line to start his football career but he didn’t want to be an offensive lineman for ever, Wesley actually had a vision of being a quarterback at a young age. When he was 15 he wanted to make the change to quarterback, not only because it was what he wanted to do on the field but it gave him the inspiration to lose weight and get stronger as he grew up. When asked about the transition he told me, “It was hard, losing weight was hard and all but even when I lost the weight I wasn’t a good QB so I really had to work on some things. It came to the point where I was very athletic actually but I didn’t know anything about being a quarterback and I wasn’t good at all.” Wesley Tshimanga then took on a responsibility to be the best quarterback he can possibly be. Moving forward he exposed himself to a number of coaches that would get him better starting with Wayne Jacobs who is from Ottawa and then Myles Gibbon who is from Montreal started to get more involved in his progression. The coaches he had early on are coaches that he’s stuck with throughout his football career up to now and without a doubt, having some extra help outside of the staff that he had with the Bel Air Lions or Myers Riders in NCAFA and OVFL went a long way. As I talked with him about the coachings that he had and his early days as an athlete he said, “I was really getting better.” and continued, “It was definitely hard at first to adapt to a new position but when I started getting coached more I got better and it really helped me when I went on to play prep ball.”
After playing his younger years of football in Ottawa with both the Bel Air Lions where he played offensive line and Myers Riders where he played quarterback, Wesley took on the decision to play at a higher level of football, starting with West Toronto Prep at age 16 and 17, then transferring to Canada Prep in St Catharines, Ontario for his senior year of high school. At Canada Prep, Tshimanga was able to play with and against some of the better players his age from both Canada and the United States. He put himself out there more for recruiting, hoping to achieve the lifetime goal of becoming a division one athlete and even though he wasn’t able to do that himself and he had to settle for the University of Ottawa he has been able to achieve a lot of other goals which he’s set on and off of the field. Yes, of course he now has the opportunity to play at the next level, something he and several other football players strive to do but since he was younger and playing football in Ottawa he’s always wanted to make a change in the football community. Explaining his point Tshimanga broke it down, “In Ottawa, we’re one big city. We have a lot of talent across the city, the west side, the east side and even in the central but a lot of the people seem to be against each other. People in the west side of the city are like enemies to the guys on the east end and it is honestly sad because it ruins a lot of what we could do in the city.” Seeing the potential that the city of Ottawa really has within the game of football, Wesley Tshimanga wanted to help make the change and he wanted to do it in a different way than people have before, creating a platform to bring the city together. Explaining his vision he commented, “There are a lot of people in Ottawa that have helped people out and bring people together like what coach Jean Guillame did in Orleans but there hasn’t been somebody that brought everyone together and I feel like if its the athletes ourselves that can do it, we could make a difference.”
Hoping to make that difference, he launched his own platform on YouTube, naming it “Weezy Football” and after a few videos posted over the summer of 2020 he has been able to make quite the name for himself on social media and around the city, getting to over 200 subscribers on YouTube and over 2,000 total on other social media platforms. He began to grow a following, but it wasn’t about the views or the followers for him to be satisfied, he said, “I don’t care about if I get a lot of followers or anything like that, I just wanted to make a difference. If I was able to put a smile on at least 5 people’s faces a day because of my work and have them think and say to themselves ‘wow that’s cool, I want to do this’ and that happens 7 days a week for 52 weeks in every year that is a lot of people and a lot of people I can impact, that is what I want out of it and I will do everything I can to achieve that.” Alongside what he’s built on YouTube, posting positive videos, documenting some of the trainings and workouts he does with his friends and teammates Wesley Tshimanga has also been able to build an educational platform on instagram where he’s been able to teach other quarterbacks the basics of how to be a quarterback. His instagram handle is @QB1Football and on there he has posted several different teachings, making other quarterbacks better, while even learning to be a better quarterback himself. He said, “I post a lot of very basic stuff. People have asked me if I ever get tired or bored of posting the same things but I always answer truthfully with a no. Doing all of this, posting stuff on QB1 or even starting Weezy Football I have learnt a lot and I’ve gotten better and I hope to make an impact, getting others better as well.”
Over his journey, making posts on YouTube and on Instagram, Tshimanga has created some buzz and has been able to get noticed by some people fairly high up, including a coach at Duke University at the division one level. Throughout the process he’s been able to do a lot and he is hoping to do even more, including growing his platform and bringing the city of Ottawa’s football to the next level. When asked about the future of Weezy Football and QB1 Football he replied, “Of course I want to grow what I’ve built to the highest level possible, and I even want to try and go international with it, showing my city to the world and doing it in a way that everyone can be a part of it.”
Moving on with his life, going to the University of Ottawa, Wesley Tshimanga will be battling for the starting quarterback position, but he’ll also be looking to grow his platform off of the field so be sure to watch out for Wesley Tshimanga and his journey.