PeacePlayers International – Middle East’s (PPI – ME) International Fellow, Courtney Douglass, interviews 31-year-old Israeli coach Ben Eliran, who has been coaching in Israel for the past 15 years and is head coach of PPI – ME’s 14-and-under mixed (Arab and Jewish) All-Star team in Northern Israel.
Ben talks about his experiences as coach and the impact that PeacePlayers has had on him.
How did you get into coaching?
When I was a 15-year-old player, my coach told me that I was much smarter than other players on my team and that I was seeing things on the court that others were not. It was special for someone my age, so he drove me to really learn how to be a basketball coach. That’s how I became the youngest person in the basketball coach’s course. I passed the course, and that is when my coaching career began.
What is your favorite team to watch?
I have two. In the NBA it’s the San Antonio Spurs because of Greg Popovich. The second team is Galil Gilboa (an Israeli men’s first division team). I love their coach’s philosophy and the fundamentals that he emphasizes.
Is there a coach that you looked up to or that has really influenced how you view the game and your coaching?
I had a coach when I was younger named Asaf Marco – he was tough and at the same time very kind. He was always willing to listen and also gave good advice on what to expect in the games.
How do you feel the PPI team is doing so far, this season?
80% of the team is new, so it’s a challenge to bond them with the girls already on the team. They are learning how to play together. In the few games we’ve played the team has shown character, and now the tough games are coming up, so we will see how bonding off the court will influence what happens on the court.
How did you find out about PPI?
I found out about PPI five years ago, when our club started working in Nahariya with Tamra. It was PPI that lay the foundation and at first it was hard, but now we have something special that has really progressed forward.
How has PeacePlayers impacted you?
I have learned to be much more patient. When you have a complex goal that takes a long time, you benefit from patience. There are barriers in language, skill level, and culture, but the girls can see that it is important to me and they benefit from that. Now I can see the seeds really starting to sprout, and can see that they will eventually grow into big beautiful flowers.
What is the most important thing you have gained from your experience being a part of PPI?
As a coach I fight for every player on my team as much as they fight for me on the court. I support all of them in any way I can regardless of where they come from. There are girls on the team who have been through a lot personally and I am doing my best to look after them on and off the court. I teach them basketball, and they teach me again and again how to keep loving basketball and why it is important.
Favorite food: Italian
Favorite TV show: Friends & Suits
Favorite pair of shoes: White Nike Huarache’s
Favorite place to travel: Amsterdam
Favorite athlete: Pete Sampras