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Basketball in Syria: Interview with coach Tane Spasev .. "Pt.2" - Sep 3, 2012

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Tane Spasev
In the second part of the interview with coach Tane Spasev , the Macedonian speaks about the current situation in Syria as well as the long term goals in the development of young players in the country.

Currently, the World is looking at Syria as one of the main crisis zones. How do live this situation on a daily basis?
Well I try not to get involved in political matters and focus on basketball. When I arrived here more than 14 months ago, the situation was ok. Damascus and most of Syria were normal and daily life did not defer much then from the daily life in Europe. The people were shopping, eating out and enjoying life. As I said, we have 300 kids coming to Syrian Basketball Federation practices at the Centers. We had a regular basketball league and we sent national teams in FIBA Asia competitions. As year went by, the situation developed as it developed but Damascus and Aleppo (and some other smaller cities) were still running normal. We still manage to run our program at the moment, although with some difficulties. We currently have a team present at the FIBA Asia U18 Championship in Mongolia and we are sending the U16 national team at the FIBA Asia WABA U16 Championship next month. As I said, I try not to involve myself in political talk and I try to focus on getting my job done.

Damascus was once considered as a lively capital in near East. How is the situation there right now?
I was lucky enough to live in and visit a lot of big cities around the world. I lived in New York, Belgrade, St. Petersburg etc. but I must say I fell in love with Damascus. I never imagined the diversity (of the city). If you are in the mood for a walk in a place with a lot of culture and old houses; this is the place to be! If you are in the mood for a modern architecture and modern restaurants and shopping places; this is the place to be! Damascus is a mix of a lot of religions and cultures and I enjoy every day I am here.

Concerning Basketball, does the current political situation affect the Syrian Basketball League and especially the youth basketball leagues?
As I said before, we try to run our job. Last year we managed to hold a league championship and to finish it without any problems. We played the championship with teams only from Damascus and Aleppo (8 teams in total) and no foreigners were allowed. As for the youth a league, we run a tournament style of championship instead of a league and that was also done successfully.

You are head coach of the U16 National Team. What are the goals for that team and the youth basketball program overall?
Yes, one month ago I took over as Head Coach of the Syrian National Team U16. We are preparing for the upcoming FIBA Asia U16 WABA Championship that will take place in Jordan starting 20th of September. The team is talented and we have high hopes for it. However, there are some factors that make our preparations difficult but we are trying to do our best. The Syrian Basketball Federations President Mr. Jalal Nakrach was one of the first Arab players to play professionally outside the Arab world. He played and lived long time in Argentina and he is a successful businessman in private life so he knows what he is doing. I am positively surprised by his vision for the future of the Syrian Basketball and I must say that if the situation in Syria is normal-we will see great things from Syrian Basketball in the future.
Mr.Jalal Nakrach along with coach Emad Othman (Coaching Committee president) have a clear understanding of what it needs to be done and are developing and implementing plans that will bring Syrian Basketball to a new level. We have a 4 year plan in the youth program that involves a lot of resources and introduces new ways of thinking and work. We try to involve a bigger numbers of kids in the game of Basketball and from there start the correct selection process and move forward. For the first time in Syria we will have national team selections starting with U12 and up (Until now kids were gathered only at the U16 and U18 level as a national selection). We developing active mini-basket program as well.
Usually the clubs are those who make the first steps into the selection process but because of the situation we are taking over as a Federation because we have more available resources. We organized the Centers I was talking about earlier. Programs and Plans of work are made for selections U 12,13,14,15 and 16. As the Youth coordinator, I made a strategic 4 year plan where we will, as a federation, select and work with kids in 4 regions and then assemble national teams that will work and participate in a number of international tournaments so by the time we enter official FIBA Asia competitions in U16 and U18 we will have a ready player and a ready team.

When will we see Syria compete in a Youth World Championship again?
Well Syrian Basketball was at the FIBA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP U19 in 2009 in New Zealand. Although the results there were not good, the experience was valuable and now we have a number of good basketball players from that team playing at our senior national team. As we talk, our U18 team is in Mongolia for the FIBA ASIA U18 championship so we hope we get a spot for next years world championship U19. In our plan, we set a goal to win a FIBA Asia Championship and go to a FIBA World Championship by 2015. We hope we manage to accomplish that because we are really working hard at it and the kids and the Syrian people deserve it.

Thanks a lot to coach Spasev for his time. You can follow him on Twitter @TaneSpasev   

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