Wikinews interviews Australian Paralympic assistant coach David Gould

Thursday, July 25, 2013

2000 Australian Paralympic Team portrait of David Gould. He has not changed a bit since then.
Image: Australian Paralympic Committee.

Wikinews caught up with Australian wheelchair basketball coach David Gould in Canberra, where the Australia women's national wheelchair basketball team — the Gliders — were having a training camp.

Gould told Wikinews he retired from playing after the 2002 World Championships. He said he began coaching able bodied basketball at schools and clubs in South Australia. He was awarded a scholarship by Basketball Australia and the Australian Sports Commission, and became assistant coach of the Under 23 Men's team in November 2011. He is now national wheelchair skills coach, assistant coach of the men's and women's national teams, and coach of the Under 23 Men's and Under 25 Women's teams.

He noted the Gliders have another training camp coming up in Brisbane in August. This is to be an open development camp any player can attend. Twelve players are to be selected for the Asia Oceania Zone (AOZ) Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Bangkok in November. The top three teams then qualify for the World Championships, to be held in Canada next year.

He is acutely aware the Gliders have never won a World Championship or a Paralympics. But he has won a gold medal, with the men's team, the Rollers, in Atlanta in 1996. "We went on a tour of the United States beforehand", he recalled. Facing the United States in the United States was daunting. There was a huge crowd. So how did they do it? "We had confidence in ourselves, and stuck to our plan," he recalled.

This, he said, is what he and Glider's head coach Tom Kyle are trying to teach the Gliders. To believe in the process. They take them out of their comfort zone, show them the right techniques, the right way to do things. The idea is to get the principles right.

Gould told Wikinews they have to look not just to the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio in 2016, but further ahead to 2020. They have to recruit new players and develop them. He said he took a Gliders team to the Osaka Cup with only four members of the 2012 team, in order to give members of the development team experience with international competition. He set up a mentor system whereby the six newcomers were each paired with one of the old hands.

Wikinews was shown how the games are videoed and critiqued by the coaches. Special software allows the videos to be edited. Effects such as circling players can be added, along with captions and audio from the coaches. The edited video can then be downloaded by the players. Gould said there is a weekly video conference with the players.

He considered video of other teams is an important training tool. He noted the Gliders had to play Brazil in the first match of the Paralympics in London, which was very tough, because so little was known about them. As it turned out, Brazil has a great program, and he thinks it could be a contender in front of a home crowd in Rio in 2016.

Wikinews noted one of the Gliders, Amber Merritt, had her arm in a sling. Gould said her arm had been scanned, and the doctors will make their evaluation. Like most elite athletes, he knows about injury first hand. He told Wikinews he had injured his shoulder during the 2000 Olympics, and had to have it operated on afterwards. He said he did not want players playing injured, and sometimes it was better just to lose a week if you have the flu. He expected his players to be honest and up front with themselves, their coaches and their team. "We need everyone on the same page", he told Wikinews.

Gould told Wikinews the Asia Oceania Zone championships will feature Australia, Japan, China, Thailand, South Korea, and perhaps Hong Kong. The venue in Bangkok is well known to him, as the U23 Men's team have already played there. His plan is to arrive early, to allow the players to acclimatise to the high humidity and the food. Some of the U23 men got sick. He does not expect difficulty qualifying, but it is "one of the I's that have to be dotted and T's that have to be crossed."

He said Australians intend to apply full pressure, but one of their objectives is also to help the competition. One of the problems in Australia is that it takes a long time to go anywhere, he told Wikinews. By building up the teams in the Asia Oceania Zone, he hopes Australian teams will not have to travel so much or so far to meet first class competition.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.