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Sclater shares Samoa experience with Marty Handson Scholarship Coaching Tour

All photos from Kaleb Sclater

APIA (Samoa) - Kaleb Sclater is one of the two inaugural Marty Handson Scholarship tour recipients and was stationed in Samoa for a one-week exchange program to help the Samoa Basketball Federation and learn from local coaches at the same time.

Sclater along with the Federation organized basketball clinics for the youth in Apia andwhile also organizing 3x3 tournaments to help develop and promote the game in the island country.

The Basketball Victoria Country U16 Men Development Coach talked to FIBA.basketball about his experience during the coaching trip.

Hi Kaleb! Can you give us a quick overview of your trip to Samoa for the Marty Handson Scholarship Coaching Tour?

I learned a lot about communication in Samoa because leading up to the trip, I thought that Samoan’s pretty much all spoke English, it wasn’t until a week or so out from when I was heading over that Annie (LaFleur) mentioned to me that not all of them spoke English. It was a little bit of adjustment but I learned a lot, this is something that I will take away for my coaching and teaching back home. I will put more time into planning a more simplified way to coach, teach and get my message across whether it be to players or in the classroom. The more we can break down our communication to make it easy for players and kids to understand the better they will learn and hopefully maximize their learning and development.

What are your thoughts on Samoa's basketball scene after spending a week in Apia?

I've learned that the youth are passionate about basketball. As soon as I got to the clinics and the schools, I could see how much the kids and youth loved it. Streetball is big in Samoa it is played in half courts around Apia, the 3x3 format is something they have taken too. The clinics proved how much the kids loved basketball, all the school principals promoted basketball as a great alternative for the kids that don’t play rugby, and the villages promote it as a way for them to come together.

Are there any other experiences you can share regarding the growing popularity of the sport in the country?

Walking around Apia the half courts were always being used by young people playing pick-up games, and a lot of the youth getting around were wearing NBA jerseys and even the few odd NBL tops as well. It was easy to see before even asking who their favorite players were, a majority of the tops were Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving. This wasn’t the only telling factor as a lot of them loved trying to “break ankles” and shoot the three. People that know me, know I’m a big Cleveland fan so I was wearing my Cleveland hat around and all the kids that couldn’t speak English all recognized the logo and connected it with one name, Lebron James.

What are the things you think you've learned that will help you in your development as a coach?

I was trained extensively to be able to think on my feet because the clinics were unpredictable. Each session that I held in Samoa was a pleasant surprise; how many kids would show up, what age group they were and what skill level, this made it hard to plan out a session so being able to think on my feet was vital for them to have a good and enjoyable experience. The competition was key for this, so grouping the kids of similar ages up and slightly modifying every drill or minor game to suit each little group was what I went with and for the older kids especially having a competitive edge in it made a simpler drill more engaging for them. All this made me have to adapt and change quickly and be prepared for anything a lot more than I ever have had to before.

If you compare the state of basketball in Samoa and Australia what do you think is the main difference?

In Australia, we have an opportunity to do just about anything, whether it's academically, professionally or in a sporting venture but to see how we compare to a smaller country like Samoa was humbling. A lot of villages that I went to didn’t have coaches, but the few that were there were wanting to ask questions, wanting to see my clinics and asking if I could stay around longer. The experience taught me to more appreciative of what we have here back home and I hope we can do more in giving our support to the smaller countries like Samoa in the Pacific.

Looking back at your trip, what can you say about Samoa?

Samoa is a beautiful country. Driving from the airport to Apia we traveled through a lot of villages and seen all the village huts and houses, a lot of the houses are colorful, blues, pinks, oranges, greens, and yellows. Smelling the fresh sea air I knew it was completely different to Bali or anywhere else I had visited before. The sights of Samoa were like of a movie or a magazine, I know that it is a place I’d like to return to with friends or family and see even more of what their country has to offer.

Any final thoughts you'd like to share?

I would like to say a big thank you to Basketball Victoria Country and FIBA Oceania for giving me this opportunity and especially to David Huxtable and Annie La Fleur for organizing the scholarship, the logistics of the trip and everything else that they did behind the scenes, it’s been greatly appreciated. Lastly, to the Samoan Basketball Federation, thank you for accepting me to take part in the scholarship and inviting me to your country, I hope that you enjoyed me being in your country and giving some small help in assisting you with your basketball development. And to Sarah, Fish, Utu and especially Fui a big thank you for all your assistance, for looking after me for the week and being my tour guides, translators you all made sure that I enjoyed my trip and felt comfortable in a new country.