Dickel leaving legacy on 'home' court

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013
Richard Dickel
Photosport
LET DOWN: Axed Southland Sharks coach Richard Dickel feels let down by the board and is now looking at opportunities overseas.

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Late yesterday, Richard Dickel walked away from his Southland Basketball Association office at the Invercargill velodrome for the final time.

There was some reflecting yesterday, a tinge of sadness mixed with excitement about what the future may bring.

His six-year, four-month stint with the association has come to an end as he eyes his next venture in a development role in Adelaide, South Australia.

Dickel joined the association in 2006 as its first fulltime development officer and yesterday, pondering his time in the role on his final day, he said he was proud of where basketball in Southland was at now.

The association has a National Basketball League franchise and is having an impact as far as developing players is concerned, including Mitchell Newton's recent selection in the New Zealand under-20 team, which will be coached by Pero Cameron.

Dickel was one of the drivers behind getting the Sharks franchise up and running and has spent time with many children throughout the province during his time with the Southland Basketball Association.

Dickel was reluctant to take too much praise yesterday but did feel the establishment of a fulltime development officer had been a big step forward for the sport.

"It was all volunteer based and you never want to criticise volunteers, but I just think it probably needed a bit of a rudder for the ship, a person to get the profile up and to go around the schools and do what needed to be done," he said.

"I'm pretty passionate about what I do and it just sort of blossomed.

"I did say when I interviewed for the job I wanted an NBL franchise and a women's team playing in the top level. I thought it was pretty much key to get kids hooked on basketball. If you don't have those flagship things, you just lose them, you put so much effort into them.

"A few people were negative about [the Sharks] but I think that is the key to keep kids playing."

Dickel got his wish with the establishment of the Sharks, who took part in the NBL for the first time in 2010. He was named head coach.

Ultimately, though, it was the Sharks that put an end to his time with the association.

After a turbulent season last year, when the Sharks lost 11 of their 16 games, the board opted to re-advertise the head coaching position, and Dickel was overlooked as former Tall Black Paul Henare was appointed.

Dickel stayed on as the association's development officer but a burning desire to coach at that level again had him searching for a fresh start away from Southland.

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He was disappointed with the way his time with the Sharks ended but was not about to part with some shots at the organisation.

"When something you've put so much passion and pride into is not there any more, of course it hurts, and things go through your mind," Dickel said.

"But, at the end of the day, I got over it and I think the Sharks are lucky to have someone like Paul coaching them, the Sharks players are very lucky to have what they have.

"One of my friends said to me the other day, ‘You know, none of these guys would be here if it wasn't for the effort you put in and got it off the ground, and the other people that have put the effort in, so you've got nothing to be ashamed of or sad about'.

"So when they said that to me I thought, ‘that's dead right'."

While Dickel is about to leave. he said Southland was now "home" for him and he would always keep a close eye on what was happening in his adopted province of Southland after he moved from Dunedin for the job in 2006.

"Pero [Cameron] said to me, ‘You're not an Otago boy any more, are you', and I said no. I love Otago, that's where I grew up, but I've invested so much time into Southland and the way the community has accepted me, you know, I can't think of anything else than being a Southlander. I do class it as home."

Dickel said his highlight was walking into Stadium Southland and seeing the place full for a basketball game.

What he would miss most was working with the Southland kids.

"The hardest part is leaving the kids who are coming through. It was tough at the camp yesterday to say goodbye to a lot of them because you get to know them on a whole new level; they're great kids, they're working hard."

Southland Basketball Association and Southland Sharks general manager Jill Bolger paid tribute to Dickel yesterday and the work he had put in for the sport in Southland. "We've got some pretty upset young kids that Richard is leaving, and that's rightly so; he deserves to have their respect, he's amazing with the age-group kids. But we understand that he's got a passion to coach at a higher level now, so we understand he needs to leave."

Bolger said Dickel would likely be replaced but the board was taking its time to ensure the role that is filled was the best use of financial resources.

- The Southland Times

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