Profile: Evan Bennett (NZ Assistant Coach)
Australian Evan Bennett, High Performance coach for New Zealand Wheelchair Basketball and assistant coach of the national team, has a proud history in the game.
As a coach he has claimed 29 national titles across all levels of able-bodied and wheelchair basketball in his homeland and took out gold at the Paralympics.
In basketball terms he and New Zealand Wheelchair Basketball coach Murray Mackay were “brought up the same way” and subsequently make the ideal coaching partnership.
“To me, because New Zealand wasn’t in international competition for nine years they fell behind in their competitiveness in the game,” Evan said. “It was always going to take two to three years to get back to a competitive level.”
While relishing the opportunity to assist New Zealand over recent years, Evan, who has also coached the Australian wheelchair rugby team, said it was important that the head coach of a New Zealand team came from within this country –that is, someone who knows the ins and outs of the workings. Someone coming from outside had to learn everything, indeed if they even choose to learn.
Evan’s association with New Zealand basketball began in 1975 when he brought the junior New South Wales able-bodied team here. He gained his first professional coaching position in 1960 and started with the wheelchair side of the game in 2002. He has coached the New South Wales mens, womens and junior teams, was the assistant coach of the Australian seniors and juniors, then Australian junior coach, and says he was particularly fortunate to be coach of the Australian Paralympic team in Atlanta.