Coaches must remember kids coming back to sport just want to have fun again

Coaches must remember kids coming back to sport just want to have fun again
Former Ireland head coach Mark Scannell during the FIBA 2018 Women's European Championships at the Mardyke Arena. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

That, according to Mark Scannell, is what youngsters missed during the sporting hiatus. That is what they badly need now.

Basketball can be fairly complex of course, extremely tactical from a coaching perspective and technically challenging for those on the hardwood. A tight basketball game in the closing stages is an intoxicating blend of chess and athletics.

Scannell feels the priority for anyone dealing with young players as sport returns from lockdown is just moving and having fun. For youngsters on the court, that is dribbling their Spalding basketball or making it swish through the net. Pure hoops.

Fun at the Rip 'n Run Basketball camp in Cork in 2009, when Irish international Jordan Blount was among the young players. Picture: Larry Cummins
Fun at the Rip 'n Run Basketball camp in Cork in 2009, when Irish international Jordan Blount was among the young players. Picture: Larry Cummins

"I was reading the interview with [Cork U20 football manager] Keith Ricken this week and he summed it up perfectly, it's not the sport itself we missed the most it's the camaraderie and the sense of community." 

For the former Ireland senior and current Glanmire coach, there's no better way to "have fun and learn together" than basketball camps.

The northsider and Dublin's Mark Ingle organise theRip 'n Run camps every summer. They usually cater for 350 teenagers in a residential setting but in the current climate, they had to be called off.

To fill the gap, a Cork version of Rip 'n Run will take place in late July in Fr Mathew's Arena on Model Farm Road. 

"We know that kids and parents are looking for an outlet and to get back to some small sense of normality. We'll be very restricted on numbers, we'll operate junior [eight to 12] and senior [U13 plus] slots with a maximum of 50 in each.

"We'll be dividing all the players up in half-courts, pods basically and they'll use their own basketballs. We'll sterilise in between the sessions and the coaches are very experienced."

Áine McKenna in action. Picture: David Keane
Áine McKenna in action. Picture: David Keane

The likes of Glanmire duo Claire Rockall and Áine McKenna will be on board, while legendary Irish and Belfast Star point guard Adrian Fulton will make an appearance as well.

"Myself and Mark Ingle have learned a lot over the years from the Spanish approach to the game and the likes of Francis and Ciarán O'Sullivan out in Ballincollig, building on the fundamentals and passing on a love of basketball. Nothing needs to be complicated for young players.

"You be very innovative without making the game confusing."

Scannell is clearly refreshed after the unexpected break. He is heavily involved in sport on every level, from his success with Glanmire to working as a rep for Teamwear Ireland and through schools coaching.

"We all just had to adjust for the few months and we'll still be adapting from here on. It's about baby steps for now but in Cork I'm confident the basketball crew are experienced enough, the administrators and coaches, to find a way to get everything up and running for the new season.

"It'll be a 'new norm' but there are always options."

Super League coach Mark Scannell introducing the coaches to campers at a Glanmire Basketball Camp.
Super League coach Mark Scannell introducing the coaches to campers at a Glanmire Basketball Camp.

School sport seems an obvious issue, given the uncertainty about how they will function from September.

"We may have to run blitzes rather than games from week to week. Buses and having kids change from uniforms into their gear for training and matches are going to be a factor. It's different with clubs where you can drop them off ready to go."

A regional format is on the cards for the Women's Super League, while there are questions marks over the facilities for many teams and the availablity of American players going forward for all. 

"There is a lot to be finalised but it's better to stay positive." 

Check out https://www.ripnrun.com/news/ripnrun-cork-camp for more.

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