US Reporter

Liz Mills and her Game-Changing Journey in Basketball

Liz Mills continues to break through barriers as the first female coach of a men’s national basketball team.

Coaches typically enter the floor and begin to focus on the game immediately. For instance, male coaches consider lineups, matchups, and strategies. On the other hand, Mills must consider everything, even her attire.

“When I went to Mozambique, they said: ‘You can’t wear the boots. You’ve got to take them off because you look too feminine,'” Mills recounted.

She dismissed the committee’s demands, saying she entered the court regardless of the incident.

“I’m very proud to be a woman. But don’t you forget about it, but I’m here to coach. And that’s what I want people to talk about: the coaching.”

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Mills and her journey

Mills watched the Women’s National Basketball League while growing up in Australia. However, unlike many others motivated by athletes, Mills was inspired by the coaches on the sidelines.

“I always say that seeing coaches like Carrie Graf and Jan Sterling, these were head coaches of women’s teams in the 90s and early 2000s. I think that put the idea in my head that I’m not going to be a great player, but I could be a great coach. I saw these strong, successful, intelligent women winning the league. If they can do it, I can do it,” she said.

She never imagined she would accomplish the milestone she has now. Mills aspires to pursue women’s basketball. But given that she is currently a trailblazer in men’s basketball, it would appear fate has other plans for her. As the first woman to lead a men’s national team, Mills asserts that sport does not favor one gender over another, even though men predominate the scene.

Fate for Mills

In Australia, she began instructing both boys and girls in basketball. However, a friend encouraged her to observe a basketball club for males when she traveled to Zambia to assist there. Mills, who was extremely passionate about the sport, attempted to contact the team’s manager in an attempt that would quickly advance her coaching career.

“I go up to one of the players and ask, ‘Do you have a club president or anything here?’ And he introduced me to the club president. He worked for the World Bank, Maziko Phiri, and was very open-minded, so we had a chat, and he said, ‘OK, you can have an hour of practice,'” she recalled.

Mills eventually took over as Heroes Play United’s coach. She oversaw several teams for more than ten years, including clubs in Zambia and Rwanda. After snagging a coaching position with the Kenyan men’s national team, her career began to move onto a greater platform.

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Kenyan success

During the AfroBasket 2021 qualifications, Mills worked with the Kenyan National Team. The squad’s forward, Tylor Ongwae, scored a buzzer-beater during a tight game against Angola to advance the team further into the competition. Sadly, South Sudan prevailed over them in the round of 16, and the Sudan team eliminated them. Nevertheless, despite the defeat, Mill’s coaching helped the Kenyan squad accomplish a goal they strived to attain for throughout their whole history.

After Kenya, Mills considered teams in North Africa before securing a position with the AS Sale. Being the first woman to lead a team in the Basketball Africa League (BAL), she leaves her mark on the profession.

Photo Credit:  Pape Emir/Basketball Africa League

Source: CNN

Opinions expressed by US Reporter contributors are their own.



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