The Estonian women's national team got its first ever foreign head coach on Tuesday with Latvian Kaspar Majenieks signing on for three years. The Latvian wants to popularize the game on the youth level and provide Estonian players with more opportunities to succeed internationally.
"I know where I want to get in my career, where I want to be. And this is one of the steps to get there." the new head coach told ERR. "There was an opportunity, I have played against Estonian teams, I know the system, the problems and the good things and I wanted to take the opportunity. I have worked in Liepaja for 10 years and I needed to take the next step in my career."
The Latvian is all-in for three years, signing a contract that obligates him to be on location in Estonia for the duration. "To work with a national team is a dream job, no matter where. You are working with players who want to be there, they are not thinking about money in that moment, they are just representing their country and want to give their best," Majenieks added.
The Latvian said working with a national team is an exceptional opportunity but there is plenty work to be done to popularize the sport and to give younger players opportunities, both abroad and at home.
"Main thing is that we will work with youth coaches. We want them progressing as coaches, that they see different views, not only mine, but we will bring in coaches for clinics," the coach said, adding that the hope is for young players to improve and get better contracts at their foreign clubs to help show young girls that they can succeed.
He noted that there are quite a few young talents in Estonia, but it will be tough to get them to play for the national team as they are tied to colleges in the U.S. At the same time, there are experienced players in Estonia and abroad who should share their experiences with young players.
He thinks a lack of teams in Estonia's top-flight league is a major issue. "It is hard if you only have three teams in the highest league. I know there is interest for a fourth team and the big problem is that they could not play in the Baltic league for a year and a half because they could get more strong games against Latvian and Lithuanian teams. The next goal for Estonian women's basketball is to get more players involved. If we get more players, we will get more teams and can raise our level."
The 38-year old Latvian said he loves the game and has wanted to be involved from a young age. "I knew that I would be a coach in eighth grade. As a player, I was not the best and I had too many injuries. And because I love basketball, I decided I wanted to stay in it as a referee or coach."
The full interview in English is attached to the article, see above.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste