Nele Nikovic’s European Coaching Report

As reported recently Auckland coach Nele Nikovic was given the rare opportunity to embark on the prestigious three year FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate, New Zealand’s sole representative on the programme. Below is an update from Nele on his recent trip to Europe.

The prestigious FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate (FECC) is a 3-year programme, designed to equip coaches with current knowledge in all spheres of basketball, from tactics, scouting and strength & conditioning, to psychological aspects of the game.

I was very fortunate to represent New Zealand as it’s FIBA Oceania representative. A total of 68 coaches attended the week-long first phase of the programme that was held in Kaunas, Lithuania, during the FIBA U16 European Championships.Image 01-NeleI met coaches from various backgrounds, chatted to many FIBA staff, and had the opportunity to spend time with highly credible European and International mentor coaches.

The leader of the programme is Svetislav Pesic who is the only coach to have won European and World Championship titles in all FIBA age group and men’s competitions when coaching Yugoslavia.

One of those titles was at the World Champs in 2002 (Indianapolis), the tournament where New Zealand achieved its highest position ever (4th). He has also won European Championships with two different countries (Yugoslavia and Germany), and Euroleague titles (Bosna & Barcelona) both as a player and as a coach.Image 02-NeleIn 2016 I will head to Europe for the U18 European Champs, concluding the exciting journey in 2017 at the U20 European Championship tournament. I highly recommend this development opportunity to coaches in New Zealand so should anyone need an insight into what is needed, expected, financials, etc., do email me as I would be more than happy to help fellow coaches.

To paint a bit of a picture of what is involved see below as to how the journey went this year:

Route: New Zealand-Singapore-Switzerland-Montenegro-Serbia-Russia-Lithuania – August 2015

Image 03-Nele

After arriving in Montenegro and enjoying a few warm days, I headed to Lithuania via Belgrade and Moscow by air and then concluded the journey in Kaunas with a small charter bus, hired by FIBA especially for the coaches.

There were 68 coaches from all FIBA world zones with about 40 national associations represented.

My 7-day experience started with a schedule that got emailed to me in advance. At a quick glance, it was hard to spot any long breaks between seminars and games. Starting with a breakfast at 8:30am, and finishing with dinner at 11:30pm, the days were very long but thoroughly enjoyable due to the information covered throughout the day. Absolutely everything was basketball related so for a true enthusiast, you couldn’t ask for more. Image 08-Nele

Two clinics a day were followed by 90 minute discussions with mentor coaches in the afternoon and then completing the activities with two games in the evening.

This schedule was fairly similar for most of the week with the inclusion of scouting (player allocations done for different coaches / groups), and group presentations with official grading.

Seminars were facilitated on court with some coaches participating or in Kaunas University lecture theatre.
Image 11-Nele

We touched on a variety of topics from Strength & Conditioning, Fundamentals, Scouting, Game Psychology to Lithuanian National Programme Strategy.

Homework throughout the year is also compulsory so even though I am not in Kaunas, I am still in touch with colleagues in order to complete assessments.

We have a large mix of coaches from various backgrounds. Some were only involved in youth coaching, others were current or ex-National players, a few had NBA backgrounds, and others held positions with national associations.

To conclude, I cannot wait for next year as I expect bigger and better things to come, despite sitting next to Arvydas Sabonis this year!


P.S. I must mention the amazing on-court effort by Bosnia & Herzegovina (image above), beating the home team Lithuania in the Under 16 FIBA European Final, 85-83. The whole senior Lithuanian team was present at the game to support their youngsters.

That was an exciting conclusion to a wondeful experience.

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