India, Something New Everyday
Chawn and I have now been in New Delhi, India for two weeks. It has been an adjustment as we expected but I am enjoying my position and we have already made some good friends. As we wished for there are many opportunities to make a difference at several levels. I have connected well with our BFI (Basketball Federation of India) staff. Himamshu Dabir is a gifted young man that is our Manager of Basketball Operations. He is of Indian descent yet he grew up in New York and has an engineering as well as a law degree. Our Strength and Conditioning Coach, Zak Penwell, has been here over a year. He moved here from Scotland but is a US citizen that grew up in Alaska and played football at UCONN. Yuvika, Auditya (Double A) and Sasha are members of a sharp young operations staff that all grew up in Delhi. Our total BFI team consists of about 15 individuals not including all of the national coaches.
Everyday in India I see something that I have never seen before. Although we are fortunate to have a car and driver there are many unusual means of transportion including the " autos" which are basically 3 wheel motor bikes with a lid and a passenger seat behind the dirver. There is the non-motorized version called a "rickshaw" that is a 3 wheel bicycle with a seat in the back. Chawn and I rode one back from the market yesterday. While I am on the market that is a cultural experience in itself. The market that our cook, Meenu, took us shopping was a large collection of stands selling everything from crafts, houshold items, clothing and a lot of food. My favorite section was the meat and fish area. The fish stand had hundreds of different kinds of fresh fish (head and tale) laying on a huge slab of ice. I looked it all over and picked out a nice big red snapper. The next step is watching the man with a big machete clean the fish and give it back to you ready to cook. Down the isle are live chickens ready to meet their maker that you can hand pick for dinner. I won't further describe that process. A little farther are hanging pigs, lambs heads, and chicken feet. Nothing goes to waste. I have come to realize that there is a public holiday about every week. We arrived at the start of Diwali which is their biggest celebration of the year. After sitting on our balcony watching the fireworks from afar as well as on our street we headed to bed where we continued to listen to the fireworks for another six or seven hours
My first coaching assignment was to oversee the U14 national team training camp. This was very rewarding. We had 25 young boys trying out for the team that will eventually be reduced to 12. This was the beginning of introducing my basketball system to India. Because I came in half way through the camp I only had time to teach them a fast break offense, man to man defensive concepts, and some half court offense plays. It was slow at the beginning but by the time they scrimmaged some outside teams at the end of training camp the system started to take hold. Much of that was to the credit of the two Indian coaches, Coach Rao and Coach Parandeep. They are not only competent coaches but they have become very good friends of mine. I look forward to working with them in the future. One way coach Rao has influenced me is replacing water breaks with tea breaks (just for the coaches)
In early December we will be conducting a similar training camp for the U16 National Team. I hope to finish teaching much of our basic system of play by the end of training camp. This is the same system that I plan on using with the Senior team and implementing at all levels of the national program. The continuity should really help improve the Indian national basketball program in the years to come.
I will also be attending the Savio Cup in Mumbai next month and then the Indian National Championships in Ludhiana after Christmas. I will primarily be scouting in order to help choose the players that we will invite to the senior team training camp. I will also conduct several clinics for the basketball coaches of India, Chawn and I are looking forward to have our children here during that time in late December so we will make it a family outing as well.
I really do believe I have been placed in a situation where I can develop the sport that I have a passion for at a grass roots level. I also believe I have been placed here for a greater calling. I have already learned so much from the many Indian people I have associated with. There is much more to learn and experience while I am trying my best to serve their needs. SALT & LIGHT