Congratulations are in order for North Canterbury Basketball (NCB) Development and Operations Manager, George Robinson, who is taking the next step in his coaching journey by joining the Brisbane Bullets later this year.
It was announced last week that the born-and-bred Cantabrian will assume the Development Coach role at the Australian NBL franchise, bringing an end to a near four-year stint at NCBA.
Robinson says the opportunity came about thanks to the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams guard Deshon Taylor.
“My wife and I had always said that once she graduated and became a qualified clinical psychologist that we’d start looking for jobs overseas.
“We were wanting to head over to the UK and Europe, but covid pretty much stopped that and so we started keeping an eye out for stuff closer to home.
“I started having conversations about the move with Mick [Downer] around June or July to see how he could help me with roles in Australia.
“While Deshon [Taylor] through his time at the Sydney Kings knew James Duncan (Brisbane Bullets HC) and he put me in touch with him. It was all meant to be really because my wife ended up getting a job in Brisbane as well.”
Robinson’s love for coaching also somewhat came by chance. After finishing his schooling and basketball career at Christchurch Boys’ High School, he headed to Dunedin to study law at Otago University.
He stayed involved with the sport by getting involved with the varsity’s club team and was then coerced into sitting on the committee.
It was at one of those meetings with the committee that he was asked to coach one the club’s lower graded teams, a role he happily jumped at.
“It was pretty weird experience coaching a bunch of 21- and 22-year-olds, plus I had no idea what I was doing, but it triggered something in me that made me want to learn more about it,” says Robinson.
The experience was so impactful that he ended up switch his degree from law to physical education and looked to take up as many coaching gigs as he could manage.
He served as an assistant coach at Otago Boys’ High School for the duration of his studies down south before picking up a graduate assistant role with the Fresno State Women’s Basketball team whilst on an exchange in the States.
Most of his time in America was spent completing his Masters in Kinesiology and Sport Psychology, but the hours spent on or near a court had a greater influence on his outlook to coaching.
“It was weird one [his time in the States] because I didn’t necessarily learn what I thought I was going to.
“Initially I was like cool, this country is like the mecca and I’m going to soak up all this basketball stuff, but I ended up walking away from it thinking this isn’t how I want to coach”.
“The way I was treated and the way I saw players being treated didn’t sit well with me and it was also contradictory to what I was learning in the classroom.
“Flipping my perspective though, I guess it drove home what I wanted my coaching philosophy to be and that I wanted to make my style more people centred rather than coach dominant.”
Robinson finished his tertiary education in 2018, meaning he now had to put his thesis into practice! Thankfully, the Development Manager role at NCBA was going and the association saw him as the best fit for the job.
The position has evolved in the time he’s been in it and so too has he. Outside of creating and directing strategic plans, engaging with local businesses for support and taking their club set up from 8 to 19 teams, he’s also acted as the head coach of the Christchurch Girls’ High School basketball team and been an assistant coach for the Canterbury Rams and Junior Tall Ferns.
He loved working for such a close-knit organisation where there were great people trying to make the region’s tamariki and rangatahi basketball experience a memorable one.
“Seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces made the role enjoyable as well as them developing their love of the game and seeing them gain confidence in their skills.”
Robinson and his wife are set to jet across the Tasman later this month and hope that Queensland loosens it’s quarantine requirements for Kiwis entering the state.
For now, he plans to do as much as he can to make the transition seamless for whoever takes over the reins. No different to the way he’s made his work look over the years.