How did you think your childhood or your formative teenage years play a part in you developing a passion for basketball and coaching?
I’d definitely have to say that growing up, basketball was a big part of my life. As a second-generation immigrant, my family and I lived in a low socio economic area of Flemingdon Park in Toronto. Basketball was the most accessible sport, as you only need a ball and an outdoor court. Growing up, the lack of resources I had access tois what pushes me now daily to grow the game of basketball within not only Toronto but also Canada.
How did you get the opportunity to start Fort Erie International Academy’s basketball program?
With the year of the COVID pandemic starting, I left the previous prep program I was at. Our Head Coach at Fort Erie – Charles Hantoumakos and I decided to create a basketball program in Fort Erie and bring back elite level basketball to a region that has been long deprived of it.
Have there been any big prospects that have made it to the NBA or playing professionally through the program at Fort Erie International Academy that you’ve worked with?
In our first year as a program this past season, we’ve made a great mark on Canadian basketball being the first prep program in Canada to send a student athlete straight to the NBA G-League Ignite Team. Leonard Miller had a historical season with us, breaking a lot of records and breaking barriers for Canadians.
How did you first get into coaching, in terms of landing coaching opportunities with Ontario Basketball, Elite Prep Basketball, etc.?
My brother plays the biggest role in this. I went on his staff when he first coached U13 basketball with MUMBA. Since then hes guided me through the provincial system and when I got there I was fortunate enough to connect with the right people to propel me through the national team, AAU basketball and now elite prep basketball.
Is coaching something that you do full-time? If not, how do you sustain yourself financially to pursue this passion of yours?
No, unfortunately not. I currently work full time in the auto claims industry which allows the flexibility to pursue my passion after hours and on weekends.
I imagine you see very few (if at all) South Asians in the coaching circuit, let alone Tamils. What is your advice to your fellow Tamils with an interest in coaching competitive sports?
1. Work for free, your time is the biggest investment you can give up in the early stages of your coaching/sports goals. A lot of people expect to get paid right away because they finished school with a bachelor of sports management (for example). Your degree means nothing in this industry, its about who you know and how much time have you put in to build those relationships.
2. Do whatever it takes, be a sponge – don’t say no to any opportunity. Say yes to them all then figure out how to complete them.
What kind of things do you do to improve your coaching skills & knowledge?
Watch a lot of games as one of my main jobs at FEIA is to scout and recruit. In order to do so you need to be in gyms, maintain relationships with various stakeholders within the industry. The more games you attend, the more people see you in the gym. By doing this, you also get opportunities to build relationships with parents and kids.
What role has your family played in the choices that you’ve made in your life so far?
Coming from a South Asian family – having a career in sports wasn’t really an option as I’m sure a lot of us can attest to. However, my parents have been supportive from day 1. They’ve been extremely supportive, the move to Fort Erie and being away from home didn’t come easy. But my parents were extremely supportive and allowed me to pursue my dreams. Having an older brother whose coaching at the Usports level helps as well, as he understands the grind, passion and dedication that is needed.
Can you tell us about a failure you’ve experienced in the last 3 years and what you learned from it?
The previous prep program I was at taught me a lot. Having assisted in building another prep program in Toronto two years ago that caused me to leave due to some external issues, I learnt to keep people you trust close to you and make sure your team is always taken care of as they’ll have your back. When starting the program at Fort Erie – Charles and I made sure we brought everyone that was close to us, with us. That’s what’s allowed for us to be so successful this year. It was never about ME. If one of us loses, we all lose. If one of us wins, we all win.