Gadi Kedar was the Dutch national head coach from 2008 to 2011. Now, 7 years later, he is back in Israel, developing his own club named Hapoel Harai Jerusalem. “The translation is sportclub Mountain of Jerusalem. I have 11 teams, about 200 kids and they are growing and developing really well. Also the club is developing hard and doing well. Furthermore, I am working for the Israeli federation to develop young coaches in Israel.”
But, the fact that he is no longer the Dutch national head coach nor coaching a club in the Netherlands doesn’t mean he doesn’t visit the Netherlands quite often. “I still have very good contacts in the Netherlands. I come every year to play games with my club against teams in the Netherlands. I visit friends and love to see the people I worked with during my time with the National Team when I visit the Netherlands, especially Marianne Jongsma, Matthijs Groot, Dino Bergens, Jaap de Goede and also a lot of players like Francisco Elson, Arvin Slagter, Henk Norel, etc.” Furthermore, this Summer, Gadi Kedar will be a coach at a Dutch basketball camp, called Big Shots Basketball Camp.
How did you end up at the Big Shots Basketball Camp?
In my time as coach of the National Team I worked with Matthijs Groot, who was the manager of the National Team at that time. We have always stayed in touch since then and spoke a lot over the years about basketball in the Netherlands, Israel, Europe, youth development. He has come to Israel multiple times to watch my youth program and the camps I run in Israel. Every year I still come to the Netherlands with my youth program to play games against Dutch teams and see old friends. When Matthijs announced his camp I immediately told him I wanted to come to the Netherlands as well for this camp!
What can you learn the players that are attending the camp?
During the camp I will be giving clinics to all the different age categories (Under 12, Under 15 and 15+). I will show them drills and skills which can be easily learned and can be used to become a better basketball player. I will probably also give a coach clinic about youth development and training, but we will have this announced later.
What attracts you to the Netherlands?
The Netherlands has a huge potential. The young kids are physically strong, are extremely tall, have a good educational possibility, are smart human beings, have all the natural abilities to be in the top 5 of Europe. If the approach of the government in Holland towards basketball would change, the basketball Netherlands would surely rise to the top 5 in Europe. In Holland you really have everything: great facilities, intelligent people, athleticism, real big guys (length), speed, really everything to become a top 5 country in Europe.
Are you still following Dutch basketball?
Yes of course. Every week I am watching the results, statistics and watching how the young players, who started with me in the National Team like Jessey Voorn, Dimeo van der Horst, Mohamed Kherazzi, Olaf Schaftenaar – because he is the younger brother of Roeland Schaftenaar and I saw him in the U18 -, are developing and also the rest of the players I worked with in my time with the National Team, like Stefan Wessels, Kees Akerboom, Nick Oudendag, Ties Theeuwkens and Aron Royé.
What are your thoughts on Dutch basketball right now?
I am convinced that when I left in 2011 it was a mistake of the federation, because the process of development of all the national teams stopped. We were in a process where we were developing the programs of all the youth National Teams to A-division level with good coaches like Burhan Alibegovic being responsible for those teams. The U20 already played in 2010 on A-division level. We were very close to the A-division level at that point and making huge steps forward in the programs and the playing style. I think that if the process wouldn’t have stopped it would have influenced the clubs in the Netherlands, the U16, U18 competitions and all the way towards the first teams in the DBL. Unfortunately, the Dutch basketball returned to its previous state after 2011. The complete organization and everything we had built up was gone.
How do you look back on the period you spend in the Netherlands?
When I look back to the 4 years I was working with the National Team it feels good. I came and brought in a vision towards the future of Dutch Basketball. We worked step by step forward with very good and professional coaching and staff. We changed the atmosphere around the National Team and the way players were looking at the National Team. A process we started in 2008 and every time I came over to visit the Netherlands we made it more professional. Unfortunately, at one day the federation cut the head of this process and took the complete Dutch Basketball years back. I think it even went further back than the moment we started in 2008. It is really too bad!
Is there a difference in the basketball culture between the Netherlands and Israel?
There is no difference between Dutch and Israeli culture of basketball at young age, but there is a different approach to the game. In Israel there are a lot more professional trainers and coaches in comparison to the Netherlands. In Israel also more professional coaches are working on a youth level developing young kids. The young kids in Israel do put more effort in it and work harder and that is probably the biggest difference between the Netherlands and Israel.
Does the difference in culture or mentality affects you as a coach, or do you always coach in the same way?
I have only one coaching style. It doesn’t matter if it is a Dutch, Israeli, or a team from anywhere else. You always approach the game with a professional mind-set. The difference in culture does not affect my style of coaching. When I came to Holland we changed the environment around the team. With Tanja Sarenac, we hired the best physical trainer in northern Europe, we started to practice fulltime, we played practice games against better European countries, after every practice we made sure a good meal was available, we just wanted everything around the team to be more professional. By changing the environment, I did not have to change my coaching style. I think we also changed the way the basketball federation NBB should look towards the National Team.
You were nominated to become the National team’s head coach by your good friend Arik Shivek. How is he doing?
Arik won the Israeli Championship two years ago with a small club named Rishon Lezion when he was surprising all the big clubs like Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Jerusalem. Arik is an excellent coach with a lot of experience and he succeeded in Israel, Holland and Belgium. Last year he took over the coaching position at Maccabi Tel Aviv 3 days before they started the play-offs. An impossible mission, but coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv is something no coach in Israel would decline. He lost in the semi-finals of the final four because he didn’t have enough time to develop the team into the right direction. This year he is coaching the first division team of Herziliya. We have a good connection and relationship which started almost 30 years ago when we coached together the Israeli Women U20 team to the silver medal at the European Championship. I think I didn’t let him down after he recommended me to be the National Team coach in the Netherlands and I showed it was a good recommendation from him, because I think we did a good job in those 4 years developing Dutch basketball.
Will we ever see you in the position of head coach of a team again?
If I will be asked I will never say no immediately, but I am very busy at the moment with the young kids developing them. I enjoy this and have a lot of satisfaction from the joy of the kids. If a club or national team will ask me as a General Manager I will seriously consider this opportunity and return to Senior Men basketball.