I am here to help develop local talents in basketball: Al Sadd’s coach Bratsiakos
Al Sadd’s Greek coach Vassilis Bratsiakos has seemingly “seen it all” in basketball having been involved with the game for almost 41 years now.
Bratsiakos love affair with the “hoop” started as a nine-year-old boy in 1979, and it has seen him getting involved with the sport, either as a player or coach, at different stages of his life.
Simply put, the Chalkida-born "gentle giant" sleep, drink, eat and play basketball and, according to him, can't think of anything outside of basketball and wouldn't mind ending it there.
Speaking exclusively to Qatar Living's staffer recently, Bratsiakos, the only basketball coach in Greece who holds the high record of 7 championships in a row, spoke about his life and his beloved sport.
Hello coach, please can we get to know you?
I’m Vassilis Bratsiakos from Greece. I’m 50 years old and the coach of the Al Sadd team. I joined the club last December, and I'm privileged to be leading the team into the final of the Amir Cup. I started my career as a nine-year-old in my hometown of Chalkida before deciding to start coaching 29 years ago. Basketball is my life, and it is all I know, and I'm happy to do. It has been an exciting journey, and I count it an honour to be involved with the game.
Can you list some of your past achievements?
I had the privilege of being the only basketball coach in Greece to win seven (7) championships in a row. When I joined G.S. Kymis in the 2012-13 season as the head coach, they were playing in the Greek D division. Within four years, I moved them into the A1 Division (the Premier League) where they played for the first time in the 2016-17 season. We won all the divisions along the way. Besides, I’m a regular member of all the big international clinics that took place in Greece during the last 25 years. I also own a basketball academy in Chalkida in which about 150 kids of all ages train.
Talking about Al Sadd, how has the journey been so far?
Al Sadd is a great club and one with tradition and a significant following. I took over in December last year, and despite the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic, we've been able to reach the semi-final of the Qatar Cup and now the final of the Amir Cup. The management has been quite supportive, and I'm privileged to have a crop of players who are very passionate about their job and are ready to give their all for the team.
Still on the club, what are your visions?
Firstly, my primary aim is to help the club develop local talents. I believe there are many talented young players out there, and I want to help them maximize their potentials. For me, it is not just about winning but leaving a legacy which will be of benefit to both the club and the country. Qatar is one of the countries I know with a beautiful reward system for anyone involved with sports, even as a kid, and I believe this should be maximized as much as possible. So, at Al Sadd, we are not just playing but building a team and creating a legacy, and that's my projection for the team.
What are your views on basketball in Qatar?
The sport is growing and gradually getting the needed attention, but I believe more can still be done. The players need to be more disciplined, determined, and their work ethics must improve. I belong to the old school that believes in higher work ethics. I want to see the players training and practising at least five hours a day. It is their job, and they must take it seriously and not just something they do as if it is a hobby. Also, the management of the various clubs should improve their supports for basketball. Everyone knows football is quite huge in the region, but basketball has also brought great honour to the country. Remember, Qatar won the FIBA 3X3 World Championships in 2014.
Finally, what are your expectations for the Amir Cup final match against Al Arabi?
We are up against a strong side who are determined as we are to clinch the trophy. Doubtlessly, it will be a tough match, but we are prepared and determined to win the title. Al Arabi have outstanding players who can score from any angle. Players like Sammy Moore and others can do damage to any team if care is not taken, but we have done our homework quite well, and I believe we have all it takes to claim victory.
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