CANBERRA (Australia) - Basketball Without Boarders Asia camp coaches, Damian Cotter, David Akinyooye and Jenni Screen, have been inspired by the level of intensity and commitment on display at the 2022 Basketball Without Borders Asia camp in Canberra, Australia.
Assistant Coach with the Chicago Bulls, Damian Cotter, reflected on what has been a positive experience for players and coaches at the event.
"It's been a wonderful experience, my first Basketball Without Borders camp, I had heard a lot about it and always wanted to have the opportunity to be involved. It has been a really positive experience for the campers, NBA players and coaches alike. There has been a positive dynamic that I'd heard a lot about, but to actually participate, and be a part of, has been a privilege to contribute to."
Echoing Cotter's remarks, Oklahoma Thunder Assistant Coach, David Akinyooye also highlighted the positive learning environment that campers and coaches are thriving in at the Australian Institute of Sport facility.
"The big thing with the campers is that they are all willing to learn," Akinyooye said. "They're making eye contact with the coaches and staff members, asking great questions at the stations and during games, they are like sponges and just want to learn. Both the boys' and girls' quality on court has been great. The campers are quick learners, we tell them to do one thing one time and they can pick it up really quickly, so I've been really impressed by that."
"It has been a really great experience working with campers from different backgrounds. It's great for the kids, the coaches and all the staff learning about where they are from and enjoying being able to interact with the campers every day."
FIBA legend and Basketball Australia icon, Jenni Screen said that the campers are relishing the opportunity to not only improve their game on court, but to build friendships and values off court.
"For a lot of the campers, English is not their first language so even that in itself, coming to a foreign country and getting to know other people is a huge step and a learning life experience. Basketball is a world game so even if you don't speak the language, basketball concepts, ideas and philosophies are all the same, you just need that beautiful brown leather ball, and it can connect all of us."
"We have kids from all over Asia, what someone brings in terms of shooting, someone adds value in terms of their speed up and down the floor, there is some exciting talent in Asia and it's great to see these young campers go at it. They are a very coachable group of players, as a coach you have to use something other than English to get a point across and while that's a challenge it is an opportunity to grow. Credit to the kids, they have taken everything on board, and you can see every day that they are getting better."
The views of Cotter, Akinyooye and Screen are shared by all coaches across the camp who are witnessing the growth and development of young basketballers as they strive to be their best in a positive environment.
"This is such a positive environment that even the kids who are a little bit shy, or lack experience, the way everything has been setup, the type of people they bring in, you can see kids growing, even from game to game, they are getting better and playing with more confidence," Cotter said. "I thought there would be a great discrepancy between countries that have a more developed basketball program. Coaching players who come from countries where they don't have strong basketball programs, they know enough to grow and improve. As long as people keep working together in the Asia region the standard is only going to continue to improve."