Dedication, tactics and no tournaments for late-comers: How St Mary’s b’ball coach built winning legacy

Arun Chopade has been the basketball coach for St Mary’s since 1992 - for both boys and girls schools. He here shares the journey that built a winning mentality

Updated: Sep 10, 2018 16:41:40

By Pranav Shahaney

Arun Chopade, coach of St Mary's basketball team. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Pune Arun Chopade has been a basketball coach for nearly half his life. Taking up the role for the St Mary’s boys and girls schools in 1992, Chopade, has battled some odds and is today a smart tactician, atleast at school-level.

The charismatic 55-year-old also served in the Indian army for nine years and isn’t originally from Pune. He was born and brought up in Latur, Maharashtra. Speaking to Hindustan Times, the former havaldar says, “At home in Latur, our financial conditions were not good. After Class 4, I had to walk five kilometres every day until Class 10 to complete my schooling. I used to love wrestling. My performances in sports kept improving and fortunately, I caught the eye of some army officials who were impressed by my training levels and sent me for a course to join the AIPT and that is where I learnt how to play basketball,” says Chopade.

Leaving the army after a short service wasn’t a decision he took lightly.

“Our senior official in the army informed the St Mary’s principal about my basketball skills and knowledge as the school was looking for a young coach to train students and build a solid team. Since 1992, I have been serving at St Mary’s as a basketball coach.”

Being the coach of both, the boys and girls team, Chopade speaks in glowing terms about both, but says in his experience, girls are more sincere when it comes to training, whereas boys seem to give it their all during the matches.

He said, “I have to be stricter with the boys as the girls listen in one shout. So that’s why we need to keep an eye on every individual. However, when it comes to punctuality, I am extremely strict about it and the players that constantly show up late to training are not picked for the tournament squads.”

Being the coach of various age groups over the years, one thing the former army havaldar has realised that going away from the city as a unit helps in developing a special bond between the players, which in turn has a positive impact on their performances on the pitch.

“It is very important to live together as this is a team game. So as long as there isn’t co-ordination between all 12 players, you will not win any tournaments. However good the players might be individually, if they don’t get along well together, there is no point calling it a team. For example, if you are down by a sizeable margin in the game, like we were during our final match, but if there is a good team spirit, you’re very likely to make a comeback and win the contest. It’s all that matters.”

First Published: Sep 10, 2018 16:41:21


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