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Anitha looking forward to her new role

Anitha Pauldurai   | Photo Credit: K_MURALI_KUMAR

As the sun sets on a long and successful playing career, Anitha Pauldurai has taken her first steps as a coach. The India women’s basketball team skipper brings her vast experience to the table, as the assistant coach of the India under-16 girls’ side for the upcoming FIBA U-16 Asian basketball championship.

“As soon as the FIBA Asia senior women’s championship got over in July, Govindraj sir (BFI President) offered me a coaching role,” Anitha said here on Saturday.

Senior India women’s team coach Zoran Visic is in charge of the under-16 squad as well, which works in Anitha’s favour. “It is great to work with a fine coach like Zoran in my very first assignment. When I played for the senior team, Zoran taught me a lot. Once again, I am learning a lot from him,” she said.

Dealing with a group of teenagers poses a challenge, Anitha explained.

“It is tough. The girls are not mature. They can’t tolerate even small rules. I’m very strict. For example, at 9.30 p.m., I ask them to switch off their phones and hand it over to me. They don’t like to do that. They don’t know how serious you need to be to play this sport.

“They still think they are playing for their school. As seniors, we have the drive and focus, but the juniors don’t have these qualities yet,” she said.

Room for fun

There is, however, some room for fun.

“The girls are very happy that I am the coach, because they have seen me play. They keep asking me to join their practice matches," Anitha said.

She believes that the girls can do well at the FIBA Under-16 Asian championship, which begins here on October 22. “We have a 99 per cent chance of winning Division B and qualifying for Division A. Malaysia and Kazakhstan are the only two strong teams in Division B,” she said.

The 32-year-old stated that her playing days are not over yet. “I haven’t officially retired yet. I might compete in the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in April next year. I feel that I can retire after a few 18-19 year-old youngsters come into the senior national side and get settled in,” she said.

The Tamil Nadu hoopster, who has represented the country with distinction for nearly 16 years, added, “I want to be a full-time coach after I retire. Basketball is life. I can’t survive without basketball.”

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 2:43:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/anitha-looking-forward-to-her-new-role/article19862648.ece

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