ASTANA – The long-awaited Astana Presidential Professional Sports Club Basketball Academy opened in mid-January to develop the sport in Kazakhstan.
“We hope that after a certain period of time, the children who will be trained at our academy will be able to join our basketball club’s main team. People often ask why there are so many foreign players in Kazakh basketball clubs. Indeed, only through providing a proper foundation, can we train athletes who will compete for top places. This is a first step for us, and I think that we will continue. There is a plan to open academies at other entities as part of the Presidential Sports Club,” Astana Presidential Club Executive Director Amanbek Kulchikov told the media.
The academy coaches are tasked with ensuring the harmonious physical and intellectual development of children in the game, developing their leadership and teamwork skills as well as providing cultural and leisure activities. Coaches were carefully selected, and one of the key points was knowledge of the Russian language.
Serbian coach Dejan Parezanin, a graduate of BC Partizan Belgrade, which has one of Europe’s best basketball academies, was appointed the academy’s head coach. Throughout his coaching career, he has been training children and cadets in Serbia. The teams he coached played in EuroLeague tournaments.
Two young Kazakh coaches, Anton Kirin and Ismail Bimendin, were appointed assistant coaches. One of the reasons behind inviting a foreign coach was to help his Kazakh colleagues learn from his experience and develop Kazakhstan’s basketball also in terms of coaching.
During the presentation of the club, the coaches demonstrated a warm-up exercise, after which the children played with professional players of Astana’s main team.
“The importance of this event for our basketball is beyond words. It has been long waited for not only by BC Astana but by basketball fans across Kazakhstan. I believe basketball academies on a level like this are probably the future of our basketball. Ours has all the necessary conditions for children who truly love basketball and want to do it,” said BC Astana’s General Manager Valery Tikhonenko, an Olympic champion from 1988 and European champion from 1985.
The Astana Basketball Academy meets all international requirements, is equipped with a unique professional parquet floor with no match in Kazakhstan and supplies the gear and uniform for children.
Sixty children aged 8 to 14 currently train at the Academy. The training sessions are in the morning and evening.