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How did you think your childhood or your formative teenage years play a part in you developing a passion for basketball and coaching?
I’d definitely have to say that growing up, basketball was a big part of my life. As a second-generation immigrant, my family and I lived in a low socio economic area of Flemingdon Park in Toronto. Basketball was the most accessible sport, as you only need a ball and an outdoor court. Growing up, the lack of resources I had access tois what pushes me now daily to grow the game of basketball within not only Toronto but also Canada.
How did you get the opportunity to start Fort Erie International Academy's basketball program?
With the year of the COVID pandemic starting, I left the previous prep program I was at. Our Head Coach at Fort Erie – Charles Hantoumakos and I decided to create a basketball program in Fort Erie and bring back elite level basketball to a region that has been long deprived of it.
Have there been any big prospects that have made it to the NBA or playing professionally through the program at Fort Erie International Academy that you've worked with?
In our first year as a program this past season, we’ve made a great mark on Canadian basketball being the first prep program in Canada to send a student athlete straight to the NBA G-League Ignite Team. Leonard Miller had a historical season with us, breaking a lot of records and breaking barriers for Canadians.
How did you first get into coaching, in terms of landing coaching opportunities with Ontario Basketball, Elite Prep Basketball, etc.?
My brother plays the biggest role in this. I went on his staff when he first coached U13 basketball with MUMBA. Since then hes guided me through the provincial system and when I got there I was fortunate enough to connect with the right people to propel me through the national team, AAU basketball and now elite prep basketball.
Is coaching something that you do full-time? If not, how do you sustain yourself financially to pursue this passion of yours?
No, unfortunately not. I currently work full time in the auto claims industry which allows the flexibility to pursue my passion after hours and on weekends.
I imagine you see very few (if at all) South Asians in the coaching circuit, let alone Tamils. What is your advice to your fellow Tamils with an interest in coaching competitive sports?
1. Work for free, your time is the biggest investment you can give up in the early stages of your coaching/sports goals. A lot of people expect to get paid right away because they finished school with a bachelor of sports management (for example). Your degree means nothing in this industry, its about who you know and how much time have you put in to build those relationships.
2. Do whatever it takes, be a sponge – don’t say no to any opportunity. Say yes to them all then figure out how to complete them.
What kind of things do you do to improve your coaching skills & knowledge?
Watch a lot of games as one of my main jobs at FEIA is to scout and recruit. In order to do so you need to be in gyms, maintain relationships with various stakeholders within the industry. The more games you attend, the more people see you in the gym. By doing this, you also get opportunities to build relationships with parents and kids.
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What role has your family played in the choices that you’ve made in your life so far?
Coming from a South Asian family – having a career in sports wasn't really an option as I’m sure a lot of us can attest to. However, my parents have been supportive from day 1. They’ve been extremely supportive, the move to Fort Erie and being away from home didn’t come easy. But my parents were extremely supportive and allowed me to pursue my dreams. Having an older brother whose coaching at the Usports level helps as well, as he understands the grind, passion and dedication that is needed.
Can you tell us about a failure you’ve experienced in the last 3 years and what you learned from it?
The previous prep program I was at taught me a lot. Having assisted in building another prep program in Toronto two years ago that caused me to leave due to some external issues, I learnt to keep people you trust close to you and make sure your team is always taken care of as they’ll have your back. When starting the program at Fort Erie – Charles and I made sure we brought everyone that was close to us, with us. That’s what’s allowed for us to be so successful this year. It was never about ME. If one of us loses, we all lose. If one of us wins, we all win.
What do you do outside of work for fun?
I’ve picked up playing golf (a little) but I usually try to experience the outdoors and go camping with friends. I also try to spend as much time with my family to catch up on missed time.
What is an insecurity you have?
An insecurity I have is constantly thinking I can be doing more - like about all the kids that I could be recruiting that I haven't yet or getting more sponsors to help support our program.
In terms of your personal legacy, in a few sentences, describe how you want to be remembered by your family and friends?
I’d like to be remembered for the impact that I’ve had on basketball in Canada and the number of student athlete lives that have changed through the opportunities of playing prep basketball. This is not only to create professional basketball players but helping student athletes obtain scholarships. I also want to be remembered for my positive outlook and always making everyone around me happy and laugh.
What do you think you would tell 16-year Kavishan looking back?
Continue to chase your dreams - do not let anyone stop you or tell you otherwise.
What is your favourite book(s) you’ve read recently and why?
Art of War would be my all time favourite – it teaches you of different strategies for war but they can also translate to real life in the boardroom or on the court.
If you were given $1 billion, how would you allocate the money to change the world?
I would donate money to various initiatives to better people’s lives in developing countries – building wells, help with farming and free healthcare.
How has the Toronto Tamil community impacted you both personally and professionally?
With the Toronto basketball community, I'd have to say the continuity within the community has allowed me to grow as an individual by always having community and ecosystem that is willing to help me & others.
What is your favourite Tamil food (meal or dessert)?
Kothu roti by a mile.
What is your favourite Tamil movie?
Ethir Neechal – Sivakarthikeyan is one of my favourite actors and the story line was great.
What does Tamil culture mean to you?
Tamils have showed a culture of being strong and resilient throughout generations. Tamil culture to me is an environment where we can keep our traditions within our “community” – the music, the art and most importantly the food.
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