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Basketball Coaches Journey #7: GM Role and Coaching at the same time, Serbia the Land of Basketball

Basketball Coaches Journey #7: GM Role and Coaching at the same time, Serbia the Land of Basketball
July 25, 2021 1 Comment Basketball Journey Srdjan

Hi everyone, it has been a while, and this was a long break even for me. A lot happened so I have now a lot to write to you about, on the coaching journey during the corona, during this crazy times for everyone. So here it goes, the last year summarized.

Due to Corona, I had to move back to my hometown in Kladovo, Serbia. My last season was in Romania with Slam Basketball Academy which was really fun to be back in Romania, and work with the coaches and players there. I coached a few different groups and had some real good results, that I personally think are good, with a U18 team that grew back its love for basketball, and I had amazing Coaches on my side that helped me achieve that. Being a motivator is one of my stronger skills so I am happy that I managed to get a generation back into basketball and grow their number from 10 players on practice to 20+.

After a successful half season in Romania, Corona came and I was only watching basketball clinics and trying to find a way to keep myself entertained and make some money as well. I also finally decided to get on the next level and get my FIBA coaching license, so I enrolled in a college, more specific the college where the president of Serbia enrolled a few days after me, which was and still is weird. So far I finished my first year at the College of Sports and Health and I learned a lot during my first year. Coaches are always learning, so the adaptation was really not such a big of a deal until the pandemic slowed down.

And here comes the fun part. Coaching the Female and Male team of Djerdap and being the GM of the Female team. The struggle was real again and it brought me back to the days I started. Making your own groups is though, especially in a small town where no one really knows you that much anymore. I started with 2-3 kids in September, it was a wild ride as corona came and went, then slowly, but steadily one by one, we increased our numbers to 24 girls and 15 boys + 7 more older kids that joined. At this point 46 kids are in the club being coached by me while the other coaches have their own kids. It will be a great season as we are preparing to have 2 female groups for the competition and hopefully 3 for the guys. We will see.

The biggest challenge was the paperwork as Kladovo is famous for having a lot of requirements to be able to get the funds from the city council. It’s ups and downs and everyone is trying to do their job, so I wasn’t complaining much, but the thing is I found out from other cities that the procedure is way easier on their end. Can’t be helped, so you just learn and make sure you get every paper needed for the thing.

Anyway in the picture above is what we got at the half of the season, we didn’t play any matches nor were part of a league due to corona.

It should always be fun to practice, so to acquire the basic movement skills and the technical skills, I tried to be as creative as possible. The kids loved it and I think made much more progress as they fell in love with the game and went and practiced on their own in the school yard. I will soon post the drills/games I did with them.

Their first game was also fun to watch, seeing them turn on their game time mood and seeing some grow beyond their skill level during a pressure situation(not that I put pressure on them but the first game is a huge one for every kid).

The pure joy of playing the first game and also the fear was fun to watch. Some rose to the occasion, some did good, some were having fun even tho a bit lost. It was both ways like that, and I am thankful to KK “Hajduk Veljko” Negotin for the opportunity that they showed our girls.

If you followed me for the past year or so, you know that I have always been one to have a positive outlook on life and basketball, especially basketball, but this year was a bit difficult to do so. Not only due to the pandemic, but basketball as a whole has died out in my hometown, low motivation + low wages equals a bad combo for everyone. Although we managed to bring life to a club with 11 players maybe to 30+, it is still a work in progress. One of our players was chosen up to the final 16 in the U12 National Team and has been working hard during this off-season as well. There is a lot of potential in the club, and a lot of willing players to go the distance. My job was made way better when I saw basketball being played in the yard again by kids. It used to be us “old folks” playing only, but now all hoops are occupied.

In the Land of Basketball, one of the few, I found a lot of diamonds in the rough as far as players goes, but the one thing that slowly fades away into history is the die hard mentality of former Yugoslavia, and mostly Serbia. We let ourselves get to comfortable in our own history of gold and silver. All that shines got to our head and even with great individual results it seems that our national team has started to suffer. It is great that we have Milos Teodosic on the team, but he can’t keep up with the change of how basketball is played. We don’t see those slow guards being successful anymore, now we have dynamic players who will charge to the basket. It’s not like they didn’t exist before, but the real thing is, we didn’t change our core things, and that’s the youth coaches.

What we have now is sort of a power vacuum in the Serbian youth basketball scene. We have coaches that have no idea how to create players, coaches that come from the senior teams to take over youth National teams, and we have people who overestimate themselves thinking they are the best just because they were born in Serbia.

This is in no hand a critique to everyone coaching in Serbia, but in a lot of ways we have forgotten what we need to do as coaches, on and off the court. Coaching the young generation of players is a must, but there is also the part where we have to teach young coaches, people who want to be part of basketball to go in the direction of constant education. Anyone can be a coach nowadays but are they really good at it?

Well let me not sound like a grumpy old man, I saw great coaches, I saw bad coaches, like everywhere else. The thing is it’s how our mentality has changed from “we have standards” to “we are the standards” and that is damaging Serbian basketball as a whole.

So with that being said, I am here, I am trying to do the best I can to promote basketball in every area of peoples lives even if it is a small community, I want to make sure everyone knows there is a club with a coach that cares, in the end hard work does always turn out good, especially if you make kids dream big.

Soon I will start this series as a podcast on YouTube, so be ready for that as well!

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About The Author
Srdjan International Youth Basketball Coach with experience in Europe(Serbia and Romania) and Asia(China). Coaching kids and developing their skills with the end goal of creating better adults with good values, and reaching beyond their basketball potential.
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