With Covid-19 forcing most sporting activities in India to be stalled, women's Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Ticha Penicheiro has urged young players to deal with the challenge by applying the tools they've learned on the court to their everyday life. 46-year old Penicheiro, who won the WNBA championships with the Sacramento Monarchs in 2005, was interacting with young basketball players in India at an online clinic organised by the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program. Penicheiro, widely recognised as one of the best point guards in the history of the game, called on young players to reinvent themselves and find the motivation to stay connected with the sport.
"Life is about sharing your space with people," Penicheiro said. "Whether it is about being a teammate, being a good sister, a good daughter, a good neighbor in society in general. Teamwork is super important to know how to navigate and to be a part of a system. Then there is perseverance that you learn the best from playing a sport. You are going to lose games, have injuries and that's life, and it is not easy and you're going to have a lot of hurdles. It teaches you to not quit. Basketball gives you a lot of tools that you can apply in real life. Besides perseverance, the other thing is to have a positive mindset. To make sure that you face all these circumstances that we are living in, it is important to be positive. Basketball has definitely helped me to cope with the situation we are living on right now."
"These are unprecedented times and unfortunately, we are all living in a time we have never lived in before," she added. "We all have to get used to living in these new times. If we can have a little more motivation, like these sessions, it is amazing. We all have to reinvent ourselves. So, this is the best time to do stuff at home."
Since its inception in 2013, the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program has reached more than 11 million youth in 13,000 schools in 34 cities across India. In the absence of on-ground activities this year, the program is hosting a 12 Week Live virtual clinics featuring NBA, WNBA and NBA G League players, legends and coaches. The program aims to engage participants in skill development, leadership and life skills sessions and among those who have already conducted sessions are NBA legends Roy Hibbert & Sam Perkins, WNBA players Sydney Colson, Azura Stevens & Dearica Hamby and Roy Rana, Assistant Coach of Sacramento Kings.
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Penicheiro, who was born in Portugal before moving to the United States to pursue her basketball dreams, believes a program of this nature plays a critical role in the development of both players and coaches. As part of the virtual program, pre-recorded training videos and content is being provided to Physical Education teachers and coaches.
"I wish when I was a little kid, I had Jr. NBA to look up to or to follow," she said. "What more can you ask for when you have talent from the NBA and the WNBA to listen to and their advice. Through such sessions, I just hope I can be an inspiration to any kid that grew up anywhere because at the end of the day it is not what you grow up being, but it is about your work ethic, and about what you put in. And I always say dream big, but also put in the work to achieve those dreams."
"I know I wouldn't be the player that I was if I didn't have good coaches as well as good teammates," she added. "Basketball is a skill sport and you have to develop that for which you rely on coaches especially at a young age because that's when you are able to develop all your skills. So, the more knowledgeable the coaches are the better it is. Any coach that can teach and has the patience to teach is important, so Jr. NBA has done a great job, not just with the kids in keeping them motivated but teaching coaches how to keep them motivated to continue to grow."