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Commonwealth Games 2018: Barking Abbey coach James Vear excited by England role

PUBLISHED: 15:30 04 April 2018

James Vear of Barking Abbey (pic: BA)

James Vear of Barking Abbey (pic: BA)

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Barking Abbey does not only have three former players involved with the England men and women’s basketball teams at the Commonwealth Games, but one of their current coaches too, writes Lee Power.

James Vear is an assistant coach to head coach Andreas Kapoulas and the men’s team, which includes alumni Joe Ikhinmwin and Robert Gilchrist, and will also be keeping a close eye on the performances of Melita Emanuel-Carr in the women’s team.

And he is not surprised to see the school represented on the global stage, given the strides made with their programme over the years.

Vear said: “I’ve been coaching for 15 years in total. I started in Kent at Sevenoaks, then moved to Medway Park semi-pro. I then coached pro in Denmark and for a bit in Canada and came back and was looking for a job in the summer.

“I had some options and Mark Clark and Lloyd Gardner approached me and asked would I be interested. Three years later I’m still here. It’s the best academy in the country.

“We’ve got a really good staff, I think we’re the only academy with four full-time coaches, and we’ve got great kids. We don’t have to do a huge amount of recruiting as good kids are applying to come here because of the reputation.”

Vear was on his flight to Australia when Abbey’s current crop of students landed a rare double at the Elite Academy Basketball League (EABL) finals in Leicester, but was excited at the challenge that lay ahead of him on the Gold Coast.

He added: “I did four years with the under-20s as assistant and was then head coach of GB under-16s. The Commonwealth Games position came up and I applied for it and I’m very excited to get it, especially with the way the weather has been. It’s good to get away!

“We’re going in fairly confident, but it’s best to not think too far ahead and stay in the moment, take it one game at a time.

“We’re concentrating on our first game against Scotland, not too much more. It’s been interesting to see the teams picked. Australia should be a heavy favourite being a home championships, they will be strong.”

As for the Abbey alumni on the England rosters, Vear was full of praise and relishing the chance to work with them and his fellow coaches.

He said: “I’ve known Joe a long time. Players always come back in the summer to work with us and see the players we’ve got. He’s great, he’s a winner, hard-nosed, intense, he’s does the little things. He has maximised his talent.

“Robert Gilchirst is another alumni and has been a part of the GB senior team for the last few years. He’s an incredible athlete, has become more skilled the last couple of years, but is still young and growing into his career.

“Melita is a very skilled player who has been in the national age group teams and went to the United States for four years and was very successful.

“She’s starting her pro career in France and I’m sure she’ll be an important player for the England women. A lot of them are part of the GB squad and will probably go with similar thoughts to us, really confident, with potential.

“It’s a small community in this country. I know the coaches well and I’m sure we will be passing on notes and having dinner together.”

Clare Wardle, chair of Basketball England, said: “It’s really exciting that both our men’s and women’s team have great medal chances. All of England Basketball will be getting behind them.”

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