THE OLYMPIC CHAMPION OF BARCELONA-1992 HEADED THE AKTOBE CLUB FROM KAZAKHSTAN.
This is the first time in the history of basketball when a female specialist became the head coach of a professional club. It is curious that Helen Shakirova began her coaching career just in men’s basketball – she led a junior team from the Prominent Moscow region. And since 2013 she has worked in Kursk, where she went all the way from the coach of children’s teams to the head coach of Inventa and Dynamo Kursk. There was only one minor break – two years ago Shakirova headed the Polish team “Torun”. And she became the first Russian women’s coach to go to Europe, after Vadim Kapranov, who worked with the French “Bourges” in the 90s (two Euroleague titles).
Recall that Shakirova had a very bright career as a player. She played for many clubs, among which were CSKA (in which she became the champion of the USSR-1988/89 and three-time champion of Russia), Dynamo Moscow, Baltic Star, Vologda-Chevakata, Nadezhda, Ivanovo Energia, French Orsha, Polish Gdynia, Czech Brno, as well as two women’s NBA clubs – Houston Comets and Charlotte Sting. She successfully played for the national team. As a member of the CIS team, Shakirova became the Olympic champion of Barcelona-1992, and for the USSR national team/Russia is a four-time winner of the European Championships (gold-1991, silver-2005, bronze-1995 and 1999).
At the moment, the most famous women’s coach in men’s basketball is the former defender of the Russian national team Becky Hammon. After completing her playing career, she has been working in the NBA as an assistant to San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich since 2014. And on December 30, 2020, after his removal in a meeting with the Lakers, she turned out to be the first female head coach in the history of the NBA.
Aktobe plays in the National League of Kazakhstan, where the participant of the VTB United League Astana (the current champion of the country) also plays. Last season 6 clubs took part in the championship. Aktobe took 5th place in the regular championship (7 wins – 21 losses) and did not get into the playoffs.
Helen Shakirova, head coach of the Aktobe Men’s Club
– How did the idea to head a men’s club come about?
– So I started my coaching career with a team of guys in Vidnom. And I really like working with men. Even after I received an offer from Kursk, my love for men’s basketball did not leave me. I watched games all the time. And there was a desire to try his hand at it. Men have different speeds, there is a power struggle. But women have a trick. And it has always been interesting for me to try to realize my thoughts in men’s basketball.
In Kursk, I started with the DUBL team and reached the silver of the Russian Championship. This cycle is over. It’s no secret that I want to work with the national team. But now something new was needed – and men’s basketball became this new one. If you know it and understand it, you can learn a lot.
– You mentioned the men’s team from Vidnoye, with which your coaching career began.
– These were boys born in 2000. With them we won the Championship of the Moscow region. Then they participated in the Russian Championship, but did not get into the top eight. Then I went to Kursk.
– What were the other options for continuing a coaching career?
- Negotiations were conducted with several clubs. Including from the men’s Super League. But we could not come to a common denominator. Aktobe was more interested in me and made a specific offer.
– Have you already signed a contract with Aktobe?
- Yes, remotely. For one season. It starts on October 10. Now I’m going to move to Kazakhstan. I will have a month to “enter” men’s basketball, work with the team, so that the players get used to me. That should be enough time.
- Is becoming a men’s club coach a new challenge for you?
- Yes, of course. I don’t like routine work. I like it when it’s very interesting, it’s necessary to show character, adapt to new conditions, to another team.
– A few days ago, you took part in the Olympic award ceremony. What kind of meeting was it?
- From the governor of the Kursk region. It was decided to award medals “For Services to the Kursk region” to five athletes who became prize-winners of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and their coaches. With three of our girls who won silver medals at the Olympics in 3×3 basketball – Yulia Kozik, Evgenia and Olga Frolkin, I worked in Kursk for several years, starting with the junior team (medals were also awarded to two rapier fencers: Inna Deriglazova – gold in the team and silver in the individual competition and Vladislav Melnikov – silver in the team, as well as their coaches – Yana Ruzavina and Lidia Safiullina. – approx. russiabasket.ru).