By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a debate currently in Spanish basketball between the AEEB, the Spanish Association of Basketball Coaches, and the newly created SINEB, the basketball coaches union.
SINEB was instituted in order to defend the professional rights of coaches, something that the AEEB also does. However, the association is a much broader and older institution than the union. And those other facets of the AEEB should be in focus.
Enter Joan Maria Gavalda, the president of the AEEB since 2005, a former coach, an architect by profession and one of the most likable persons on the world of European basketball.
You can argue with him about the rules in Spain, that still don’t let anyone coach simultaneously an ACB club and a national team, you may have a different opinion about the current needs of professional coaches, but you can’t deny the core of his philosophy.
“As an association, you have to give always something back to the younger generation of coaches and players and even to society”, he said during dinner at the EuroLeague Head Coaches Clinic, “if you don’t do this, then what’s the point?”
And in an association like the AEEB, which is more than inclusive by nature, that’s the whole point. The AEEB members come from all levels of the sport and through their association, they can rub shoulder with the top of coaching professionals, learn from them in clinics and gain knowledge and experience that can help them not only be better as coaches.
“The point of being a coach is to be a teacher, especially to young kids and not necessarily produce athletes”, said Gavalda and ultimately that’s the social role of the sports.
And like most national coaching associations, the bulk of the AEEB activities is aimed at a mass audience of coaches, helping them expand their horizons.
In 2018, the AEEB organized eight clinics, collaborating with the Ricky Rubio camp, had 60 of its members attend one week of practices of top Spanish teams – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Real Betis, Fuenlabrada, Valencia, Bilbao, and Joventut – and 14 of them attended also a week of practice of the Spanish national team, which was also repeated a few days ago this summer.
Add to that, seminars specifically for women coaches and minibasket, plus a trip to Houston last November, from where the photo of the AEEB members with coach Mike D’ Antony was taken.
And the bottom line is simple. Sports in European culture are not just entertainment, still the top-level certainly can and should be viewed as a product and a business.
That’s why institutions like the AEEB and national federations should address and cultivate the social aspect of the sports while walking side by side with the professional and business side of them.
It would be an ideal combination.