Coaching best decision ever: Henare

By Andrew Bonallack editor@age.co.nz -
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Guest speaker Paul Henare, Tall Blacks head coach, gets expressive when talking about Kiwi basketball export Steven Adams. PHOTO/FILE
Guest speaker Paul Henare, Tall Blacks head coach, gets expressive when talking about Kiwi basketball export Steven Adams. PHOTO/FILE

The idea of parents battling to keep a child true to a training regime might be a losing one, says Tall Blacks head coach Paul Henare.

The former Breakers captain and two-time Tall Blacks Olympian made the comment as guest speaker at the Wairarapa Times-Age Sports Awards at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Solway Park on Wednesday night.

He was being interviewed by sports administrator Sam Rossiter-Stead in front of an audience of more than 300.

Henare commented on how one of the finalists had thanked his Mum and Dad for getting him to training and games.

"I was really lucky to have such a supportive mother," said Henare.

"But she was supporting me in what I wanted to do, and what I wanted was very clear. At 13 years old, I said in eight years' time, I wanted to go to the Sydney Olympics. But what I see more today, is Mum and Dad wanting it more than the athlete.

"And I think, that kid won't make it, because Mum and Dad want it more, and that's sad to see."

He said if a kid has to be told, you have to get to training, you have to work hard, you have to get up at 5.30am "yes, you get Mum or Dad to get you there. If you're being told, you need to get out of bed, you are going down the wrong field."

Henare said winning is what drives him, which led to a story as to why he was not able to locate his Commonwealth silver medal to bring to Masterton with him.

At the time, silver was a bitter disappointment.

"At the 2006 Commonwealth Games, playing Australia in front of 10,000 people, it was a great game, but we fell short, we got a silver, and I remember the disappointment of standing on that podium getting that silver medal. A lot of people think, you selfish bugger, but I play to win, and I coach to win. If I don't achieve that, I don't feel I have done my job."

He said he was not able to find the silver medal "because I didn't respect what it was worth.

"Looking back, it was pretty special, but riding me at the time, was to win at all costs."

Today, he gets more highs from coaching than playing.

"It's been the best decision I ever made," he said. "In 2011, my body was beginning to break down, and I started thinking, what's next. To coach a team, to see players grow, that's something you take pride in."

A coach is a figure who players look up to for advice, something he took seriously and enjoyed. "It's the everyday challenges of coaching, working with different types of personalities. It is amazing figuring out how to push the right buttons, with people from all over the world, and, when you get it right, it's amazing."

As a player, you "play your butt off" and have a career focusing on doing the right things, but there's an element of "selfishness", he said.

"A coach has the most unselfish job in the world."

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