My name is Max Ojomoh and this is my Deeper Why.
From day one I was rugby mad, mostly because of my dad! I was obsessed with trying to drop kick the ball over the posts at the Rec as when I was young you could just go out on the pitch – that was always my challenge as a kid!
I was so keen to play rugby that my dad helped form an Under-5s group so me and the other kids who wanted to play in the area could start tag rugby early because we weren’t allowed to play up the age groups.
To be fair to my dad, he wouldn’t just let me focus on rugby. It was obviously my main sport, but I also played cricket and other sports too. Playing sport as a kid was a release for me. There was nothing I loved more than finishing school and having rugby training or cricket lessons, sleep and then repeat the next day.
I wasn’t one of those kids who would sit at home, do his homework, play Xbox and go to bed. It’s the same today. It’s why in the off-season I came in because if I am sat there doing nothing then mentally, I feel I haven’t achieved anything.
While I owe being active to my dad, my mum helped me with my schoolwork, my mindset and how I approach things. I’d describe them as good cop, bad cop! My dad and I are my own harshest critics, and my mum softens that! Her impact on my life outside sport is huge but it goes unseen. People only see what happens on the sports field, they don’t see my grades or anything like that. I had, and still have, the best of both worlds.
I’m very thankful to this day to both of them. I don’t think you could parent a child better with what they had to deal with in terms of me needing me to be everywhere, them driving me everywhere; they pushed me hard to work hard in school. I look back and appreciate that because others who didn’t have that support didn’t fulfil their potential.
They are 100% my why, but doubters spur me on a lot too.
Everything when I was growing up was around ‘you’re only getting certain things because of your dad’ and there was more pressure on me. It kind of annoyed me but it’s what drove my competitive edge as a child.
Even now It frustrates me when people say for a cheap laugh that I am where I am because of my surname because I feel I’ve shown enough of myself for that not to be the case. It’s getting to the point now where I’m half-establishing myself and I want it to be two names – it’s not Steve’s son or Max’s dad, it’s just Steve and Max.
In school, I remember situations which continue to push me to be successful. We were doing a school yearbook and I was going to be voted ‘Most Likely to Peak in School’. To this day, besides my close circle, everything I do is to prove people wrong. With exams, no one expects a sporty black kid to actually get good GCSES and when people asked how I did I could go ‘wham!’ and slap that on the table and say ‘sweet, this is what I’ve worked for’. When people say things like that it drives me; I want to be more successful and push myself to prove them wrong.
I will never be anything other than myself and I will succeed as myself. On the pitch I can’t stress enough how I want to be the Max Ojomoh people see at training or just around Bath.
If I’m laughing on the pitch, it’s genuine; if a fan calls my name on the pitch, I’ll turn and do a face or something because that’s just who I am! I don’t think players should change because they’re on a stage.
People talk so highly of my dad and one piece of his advice that sticks with me is to always be nice. I want to nail down a reputation for being a consistently good player, but I also want to have positive connotations around my name, and I want people to talk about me the way they talk about my dad. That would put the rubber stamp on proving any doubters wrong.