Coach Vear: First Impressions

The Dalplex

The DalplexFormer Medway Park Crusaders Head Coach, James Vear, continues with his blog from overseas (University of Dalhousie, Canada). Vear left the UK about a month ago, and will be regularly updating us with his experiences and life abroad. You can check his first blog entry here. Over to James:

After a 6 hour flight (and only 5 minutes in Canadian immigration!) I arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I walked out of the airport to be met by my new boss, John Campbell, and instantly noticed the weather is definitely like England!

It was raining, like any other typical summers day I’m used to; little did I know Halifax was actually having one of its best summers on record – since that day I don’t think it has rained, being in the mid-eighties most days.

Over the first few days I got the chance to settle in, see a bit of Halifax and see the facilities I would be working at for the year. The Dalhousie Tigers play at a facility called the Dalplex (picture above) – by their own admission it’s not the newest facility – but it has lots of character and is a great place to play basketball, with 3 full size courts, a huge weights room and swimming pool all on the same site. We also have another practice court at a different location on campus where both the men’s and women’s team are scrimmaging twice a week during our pre-season.

During my first week in Halifax I accompanied John, his wife, and two kids, to soccer practice before the men’s team scrimmage later in the evening. When I got there, I was shocked to see close to 500 young kids all playing soccer on Dalhousie’s astroturf soccer pitch. After talking to some of the parents it became apparent that all kids here play sport and not just one sport, but loads of them!

I don’t have kids myself, but I’ve never seen this in the UK, especially kids participating in so many different sports. Sports taking place at Dalhousie over the summer include basketball, soccer, volleyball, swimming, hockey, track & field, badminton, climbing, lacrosse, junior Leadership and many, many more. I Googled some of the UKs best known sports universities and found very little, if not any, sports camps for kids – something I hope changes – especially for basketball, as that’s when we need to get kids interested in the sport, waiting till kids are in secondary school is too late in my opinion.

The next day I went along to the Dalplex to watch some of the girls’ basketball camp taking place and to familiarise myself a bit more with the campus. One of the first things I noticed walking around was our other practice court was being used by some local people to play pick up, I walked in and watched for a while and realised that this court was never locked up and people could come in and pretty much whenever they wanted.

I’ve started to see the huge amount of outdoor courts there are here in Halifax. This is something I think that has a huge effect on basketball in the UK – a lack of accessibility to courts. Now, I’m not sure leaving facilities open all the time is the answer, but I think we need to look at putting up more outdoor baskets. I know that playing on my outdoor hoop is where me and my two brothers learnt, and truly fell in love with the game.

My second week here I was tasked with taking individual workouts for some of the team; this would be the first time I would get to interact with the team and to get to know them. Early on in the workouts I could see we have some talented players and some willing to work very hard to get better. All the players will filter back this week and we are getting close to the start of full training.

We have just had confirmed a trip to New York to play against NCAA Division 1 team Rider who have English born Tom Pereira on their roster. We’re also playing in the Carleton University Tournament where we will play against GB U20 coach Dave Smart’s Carleton, the current national champions, and two other CIS teams.

I am looking forward to our first week of practice coming up and helping run our kids camp and specialist shooting camp starting soon. My next blog installment should have a lot more basketball specific chat in it as we will have started full training then and should be into pre-season.

As always, feel free to contact me at or @coachvear on twitter.


  • twopointgeezer

    More outdoor hoops? Nah, it rains like every other day here. Then they are useless. We need accessibility to indoor or sheltered courts outside of team practices so individual skills can be honed.

  • dpeti

    Do not need outdoor hoops to practise dribble skills, passing skills, fakes, rocker steps, etc.etc. etc., just need an outdoor space.

  • coach vear

    The climate here is more extreme than England and it works here! I know thats where I got better playing was on my outdoor hoop! Do agree though that something needs to be done to make indoor courts more accessible to play!

    • twopointgeezer

      Yeah, I played loads outside too, and I did get better. But to get to elite level, shooting and other fundamental skills need to be practised every single day.

      As soon October/November hits, outdoors just isn’t a real option until around April time. Rain, wind, freezing temperatures just make it impossible, let alone dangerous. Not to mention it gets pitch black by the time schools are finished.

      I bet you can get access to an indoor hoop in Canada way way way easier than you can here. Schools and YMCA’s alone allow regular access. You said it yourself in your article that there always seems to be an open court that is accesable all the time it seems.

  • John76

    There were plenty of outdoor courts in England in the past 10 years and this did not help the sport grow at all. The schools and the colleges must open their facilities and encourage the youngsters to play after school. More local community courts have to be built and more high profile players (Pops, Deng, Freeland) used to promote the game. Canada is not really a lot more advanced in basketball then Britain, they don´t even have a pro league as far as I know. Britain has a lot more potential and it is about time to use it.

    • John76 …. Canada do have a mens league but its pretty new and relativley unheard of

      In terms of out door courts their are loads around but schools dont want to open them up incase of vandalism… my local court in North Baddesley gets wrecked by kids using it as a climbing frame and then the weather destroys the WOODEN backboard… they should really replace all with a more long lasting backboards.

  • coach vear

    John 76 Its an interesting debate I do agree that schools and colleges need to open their doors but we both know that not many are going to do this in fear of them being vandalised.

    I agree we have a lot of potentail but we have been saying that for yrs and we have never really pushed on, lets hope things do change in the coming yrs.

    Does anyone think the Olympics could and has had an affect on Basketball in Britain or is it too early to tell?

    • John76

      There may be more interest from kids to play basketball but I don´t see a system to use this potential new interest. Nothing has changed really and unless British Basketball receives huge funding for the next 4 years and invests some of it in the talented young players, coaches, and to an extend their clubs, we will not progress. But I do not believe that running camps or outdoor basketball activities will make much of a difference if the clubs continue to be underfunded and run by volunteers.

  • dpeti

    Go almost anywhere in the US and you will see kids practising outside whilst in England this is not the case. On many of the so-called outside courts you will see kids kicking a football or the court is empty.

    It is simply not in the sports culture of the English to play/practise basketball outside. If inside courts are not available, then basketball does not take place.

    In the US outside courts are treated with care and respect. Not the case in England – again, cultural

  • When are we getting our next update?

    Anytime soon?

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.