Q&A with Damian Cotter
N1DP: At the end of 2016, you embarked on a trip through India, Sri Lanka and Europe to coach players from grassroot through elite; how did this come about?
DC: I’ve been conducting camps in Sri Lanka for about 10+ years now, and it started out as a yearly altruistic type thing and just grew to yearly visits coaching anywhere and any level of experience – from grassroots to National Teams. It’s interesting how global the game truly is. On this trip, I was quite fortunate with the timing with an invitation to work in the Maldives and Indian National Team that was created by Danny Kordahi at N1DP.
N1DP: In India, you were working with the National team, as well as elite development players; what are the main differences between how the game is played here in Australia?
DC: Apart from the heat and the humidity. The most confronting difference is the facilities and infrastructure. I think the young people here in Australia at times don’t understand how good they have got it! It was an exciting time to be in India as the BFI is on the verge of some exciting events such as the FIBA senior Women’s Qualifying tournament which will include Australia for the first time and the announcement of the National League starting in the new year. My experience of working with the National Team was nothing but positive as that there’s talented players willing to be coached with a strong work ethic.
N1DP: Your association with Sri Lanka dates back to the early 2000’s, what keeps you going back and was there anything special you experienced this year?
DC: Well it all started when I was the Coaching Director at Knox Amateur Basketball Association in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne a close friend of mine Ondray Ephraums (who’s children played for the Raiders) organised a trip for me to visit in 2005. It was my first international visit and ended up being one of the most enlightening experiences for which I’m most grateful.
As for the coaching experiences there has been so many and you have to be prepared to be adaptable for anything. On my last trip I visited Kandy (in the middle of the Country) where I coached 160+ kids ranging from 10 to 22 on one court with 30+degrees and very humid conditions for 3 training sessions for 3 hours – the kids worked hard and there wasn’t one complaint and I dropped a few Kilos which didn’t hurt!
What was very cool on this trip N1DP generously gave me some T’s to pass onto some children of Colombo that was greatly appreciated by the kids and the basketball community. I’m looking forward to working with N1DP to evolve this into something more significant over the next few years.
N1DP: In Germany & France you worked alongside their top coaches, while coaching some of their elite players aged under 15; do you feel the trip was just as much a learning experience for you as much as you shared your knowledge with these kids?
DC: The great thing about visiting these countries is that you get opportunities and experience to spend time with both talented players and coaches. Australian basketball is highly respected internationally and there’s a great legacy established by many of our great national representative players and coaches over many years. Working in the Bayern Munich region and visiting INSEP (the French institute of Sport) was a positive learning experience. I’ve already been invited back to do more clinics in Europe in August and I can’t wait.
Doing these coaching and players clinics gives me opportunities to network and trade ideas and this allows me to bring back contemporary coaching methods that I can use when coaching with the No1 Draft Pick Basketball Academy.
N1DP: You were exposed to many cultures during your time away, as well as a variety of skill levels; did you observe any moments of how basketball impacts the areas you visited?
DC: I’m so fortunate that the game we all love is truly Global. On this trip within one week, the opportunity to visit India (Hindu), Sri Lanka (Buddhist) & the Maldives (Muslim) reaffirmed my personal belief the ‘people are people’ and within sensible reason you have to be open minded & tolerant to other people’s cultures.
What’s also Global is that you give a ball to a kid anywhere in the world and spend some time teaching them you’ll get the same reaction – a big grin!