Samoa Basketball bring in outside help
Jimmy Griggs, an Australian with around 40 years of experience in basketball, has been brought in by the Samoa Basketball Federation to help develop the sport in Samoa.
Griggs has coached all over Australia, predominantly at age-grade developmental levels.
He said Federation President, Tala Pauga, was looking to bring someone from outside who might have a different perspective.
“Through contacts in F.I.B.A. Oceania I found out that there might be an opportunity here," said Griggs.
He met with Pauga, who invited Griggs to the Samoa Cup in Auckland in January, where he helped coach the Under 17 girls and Under 19 boys.
“From that he invited me to come and do some development work here.
“The main objective is to get the younger players coming through, provide a pathway so that we can have more Samoan-based players representing Samoa."
All going well, Griggs will be in Samoa for a 12 month stint in a voluntary capacity.
“I’m going to be assistant coach of the women's team at the Pacific Games.
“Hopefully we’ll qualify for the Asia Cup in September, if we come first or second."
Griggs said a key project will be implementing a men's and women's premier league on the island.
“We’ll be working towards getting players ready to step into that as soon as the Games are finished."
The Federation also want to establish an Academy programme for junior players.
“We want to get some programmes in place that are going to be ongoing, even if I don’t stay here forever," Griggs said.
The Central Coast native has been in Samoa for about a month now.
“It’s just finding how it all works here, and how I can work in with what’s available here.
“There’s a lot of challenges, but there’s a lot of potential as well, so that’s what I’m really enthusiastic about."
He said some of the challenges are a lack of indoor basketball venues in Samoa, and difficulties in getting players transport to and from those that do exist.
But Griggs said the advances he has seen basketball make in Australia can definitely translate.
“Obviously you don’t have the population base or the resources, but within those parameters, I still think there is the athletic potential here, the cultural potential, because it’s a very sport oriented culture.
“I think there’s enough here if we can get established, but it’s just baby steps to start with."
He said one of the main things is getting more people involved in the sport at every level.
“[Australia, ranked third in the world for women and 11th for men] got to where we are on the international level because of the development programme, and the structure of it.
“That’s where I base my whole philosophy of coaching, we’ve gotta do the development and work from the bottom up."