Olympic Silver medallist Zoran Savic explains why Dubai is the perfect place for the 'Basicball Academy'
Premier League footballers travel to Dubai for warm weather training, the world’s best cricketers play test matches in the emirate and the city also hosts golf’s World Tour Championship. However, it has yet to produce a truly global sports star of its own. For ex-professional basketball player Zoran Savic, who has just set up his own training centre in Dubai, the future may not lie in shooting pars on the golf course, but shooting hoops.
It’s one of the Academy’s aims, enshrined in its mission statement, to use basketball to help youngsters to become better people through teamwork and discipline
Savic, who won an Olympic silver medal with Yugoslavia in 1996, had a glittering career with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Virtus Bologna. And having seen the world’s best young players compete at the FIBA Under 17 World Basketball Championships in Dubai in August, Savic is convinced he chose the right location to set up his Basicball Academy at American University Dubai.
“Last season, I came to Dubai four or five times – I like Dubai so much – and I saw a lot of basketball potential because the local kids and expats don’t have that many opportunities to play. The kids need to have the space, the possibility to train, to work very hard daily, and maybe to have a golden future in the States playing in the NBA.”
Savic is serious about aiming so high. Children as young as six can enrol for the rolling ten-month courses at the Basicball Academy now, and the Basketball School at the academy runs from this autumn until June 2015, with weekly practice sessions providing physical, tactical and technical tuition. What’s more, a planned pro camp offers coaching from star names such as ex-LA Lakers and Sacramento Kings player Vlade Divac and Barcelona coach Xavi Pascual. “Trainees can really aspire to play professional basketball in Spain, Italy, maybe in college, and afterwards the NBA,” he says.
'I always dreamed when I was a basketball player and a youth manager at FC Barcelona of opening a basketball school. I love to organise and to work with the kids'
Of course, Basicball isn’t just focused on Emiratis and expats breaking into the professional basketball scene in America. It’s one of the Academy’s aims, enshrined in its mission statement, to use basketball to help youngsters to become better people through teamwork and discipline. Whatever it achieves, it is a dream job for Savic.
“I always dreamed when I was a basketball player and a youth manager at FC Barcelona of opening a basketball school,” he says. “I love to organise and to work with the kids. We have fantastic coaches with European and American experience that can offer something that Dubai has never seen before.”