NZ Breakers and Tall Blacks coach Paul Henare talks about his transition from professional player to the sideline role ...

On discovering basketball:

"By the time I got to high school, I knew basketball was it for me. I just loved everything about the sport - it's multi skilled, there's different technical aspects, it almost ticks every box for me as an athlete. Everything about the game, it clicked with me."

On the struggles:


"It was very hard to make a living out of sport. The majority of my career, I'd play for half the year, and then get a job and work - that was the norm. These days, there are so many more opportunities for guys, for kids to go to the States and pick up scholarships etc.

"Some of the biggest challenges for me were my family struggling with financial side of things. We were always having to fundraise and my mum was a huge help throughout my teenage years. She was the cook in the kitchen, the first one there at carwashes and sausage sizzles."

On retiring:

"I retired at 32, which is pretty young, but the body was starting to break down and I had good mentors, and they encouraged me to explore that option. They saw leadership qualities in me that would be useful in coaching."

On becoming a coach:

"For me, the natural qualities I had as a player helped me become a good coach. You can lead in different ways ... leading by example, but also speaking up when needed and having the skill set to be able to get people to buy into what you want to do.

"Early in my coaching career, I let my temper or emotion get the better of me. At the time, I was thinking that was best for the team. Now I've learned that only a certain group of players that will respond positively to that."

On the rewards of coaching:

"I've been really lucky through playing and coaching, being able to enjoy many successes and had many challenges. Playing for your country is a massive thing and to be able to coach the Tall Blacks, a team that has given me so many opportunities, I get to lead that team and create opportunities for others.

"I think, as a coach, it's much more rewarding, to be honest. In the NZ league, I was able to get a couple of national championships, and the sense of pride and joy, watching your team celebrate, that's special. To coach a team that gives so much enjoyment to a group of young men and people involved in the organisation, to know you had a strong hand in that, is really rewarding."

The responsibility of his role:

"I think my role as a coach is secondary to helping out young men and young people in our community. Whether its an eight-year-old boy or 28-year-old veteran, when you take genuine interest in the person first, then I believe you can get the best out of that person."

On his future in the game:

"I don't know how long I'll stay involved in it as a coach. I haven't chosen the most secure position in world, I know that, so who knows where journey will take me.

"When all is said and done, I just want to walk away from the game, knowing I gave it my best shot. As player, I leave everything on floor and as a coach, I want to know, within myself, I put everything I had into it."