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October 21 2021 1:42 PM ˚

The coach helping raise a new generation of young talent

(Photo: Handout from Sam Daghlas)
(Photo: Handout from Sam Daghlas)
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Having spent the better part of two decades playing and coaching basketball, Jordan’s Sam Daghlas is now hoping to pay it forward to the Kingdom’s youth.اضافة اعلان

The former national team player and coach traced his love for basketball back to his early adolescent years.

“I never liked basketball as a child, I always loved soccer,” Daghlas told Jordan News in an interview.

It wasn’t until age nine, when Daghlas’ family emigrated to the United States, that he started to grow fond of basketball.

“There, I didn't see much of an attraction [for] soccer… it just wasn’t popular,” leading him to make “the full switch” to basketball.

The Palestinian-Jordanian athlete played varsity basketball all four years of high school and was able to go to both junior college and university on scholarship. It was then that he knew he wanted to be a professional player.

He described the launch of his career after that as a “beautiful journey.”

“It was exactly what I wanted, in a way. I’ve always pictured myself as an athlete, since I was a child. I used to pretend that I was an athlete in the living room and act like I was driving a car, pulling up to the soccer stadium… it was a dream that became a reality, but with basketball instead of soccer.”

Daghlas enjoyed a thirteen-year-long career as a professional basketball player. He then retired and – hoping to change Jordanian basketball – coached the Jordan men’s national basketball team for two and a half years before becoming an assistant coach for the NBA G league’s RGV Vipers, a Houston Rockets-affiliated team.

Reflecting on his career, Daghlas added, “I lived it to the max, I enjoyed it, made great friendships all over the world, and played in a lot of different countries… Now I’m at a point in my life where I’m giving back to the kids, to the young athletes, to whomever needs help.”

It is for this very reason that Daghlas founded the SD13 Sports Academy.

“I wanted to make a change. I saw that, in Jordan, basketball had dropped from the year 2012 to 2016, I wanted to be one of the guys that takes basketball in the right direction,” he explained.

“I didn’t want to be able to do it fully, I didn’t want to take credit for it, but I at least wanted to put it on the right track.”

Daghlas recalled that, between the years of 2004 and 2008, the local basketball scene had not yet adjusted to the American style of playing. When he, along with other players from the US, came to Jordan, they started to see a change.

“We saw a shift, because they saw how we played, (saw) the difference in style… Now, in our youth, we’re seeing the change but not fast enough.”

“We still lack a lot of skill levels and game experience, and those are the things that we need to continue to provide for our younger generation, because the European countries and the U.S. are way ahead of us and way advanced,” he continued.

He emphasized the importance of unity in confronting these challenges head on.

“I don’t think that one person can ever change something, we all need help. This is what I’m trying to change, for people to work together, to come together for a common goal.”

Daghlas explained that women’s basketball faces similar hurdles, albeit amplified.

“Women’s basketball is sometimes neglected, (partly) due to not enough women playing the sport, but we have to do something about it. We have to draw women and girls into the sport and make them see that by coming in at a young age, there’s something (for them) in the long run.”

“I would love to see women’s basketball take that next step, because I think we have a lot of great and talented women here… and it showed in 2019 when Fuheis Club won the Arab Championship, so I think we need to put more effort in backing women’s basketball.”

Looking to the future, Daghlas hopes to make it as a head coach in the NBA while continuing to develop SD13 Sports Academy.

“I want SD13 Sports Academy to be able to develop stars, to help kids achieve their goals, whether it’s getting a scholarship somewhere in the world, to playing on the Jordan National Team, club team, whatever…I want SD13 Sports Academy to be the help, to be the place where we change and build character.”

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