Anitha takes up a new role

Anitha takes up a new role

 After leading the senior women’s national team to the upper echelons of Asian basketball, Anitha Pauldurai has taken up the role of grooming the youngsters for the 5th FIBA under-16 Women’s Asia Cup here.

The tournament will take place at the Sree Kanteerava Indoor Stadium and the Koramangala Indoor Stadium from October 22 to 28.

“I’ve been working with the U-16 team for two months. As soon as the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup got over, Govindraj (Basketball Federation of India president) offered me a coaching role. I said yes. So now I’m working under Zoran (Visic),” said Anitha, who was roped in as an assistant coach for the side.

The Indian skipper though clarified that she is not working in an official capacity and the notion of retirement is far from her mind.

“I am not on contract, it is just for this FIBA under-16 tournament for now. I  might play the Commonwealth Games, I don’t know. I’ve not yet retired. The idea is that if I learn from Zoran, I can help out the senior Indian team too. I feel that I can retire after a few 18-19-year-old youngsters come into the senior side and get settled,” said Anitha.

She dismissed any misconception about coaching being a walk in the park.

“Coaching is totally different from playing. We think it’s easy, but it’s tougher than playing. It needs lots of patience and responsibility – quite a new challenge for me. At 16, the girls are not mature. They can’t tolerate even small rules. I’m very strict. For example, at 9.30 pm, I ask them to switch off their phones and give it to me. They don’t know how serious you need to be to play this sport,” she said.

Anitha also highlighted the impact Visic has made in his short tenure.

“It is great because I’m working under a great coach in Zoran in my very first assignment. When I was a player, Zoran taught me a lot. Again, he is teaching me how to coach players,” the 32-year-old said.

In the under-16 tournament, India will compete in Division B and will take on Nepal in the opening encounter on October 22. Sri Lanka and Iran are the other teams in India’s group while the other group comprises Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Maldives.

“We have 99 per cent chance of qualifying for ‘A’ division if the girls play bravely. Only Malaysia and Kazakhstan are strong teams. We are working on making the girls confident,” Anitha asserted.

Meanwhile, Govindraj revealed that the Sports Ministry has agreed to the federation’s suggestion of hiring two foreign coaches for the strength and conditioning of the senior sides (both men and women). Govindraj added that the Kanteerava Stadium has been sanctioned by the Ministry as the official training centre for basketball.

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