Hockey, the sport that Canada is most famous for. Lacrosse, the national sport of Canada. Basketball for a long time took a backseat to those sports. In 2019, the country of Canada became an NBA champion with the Toronto Raptors defeating the Golden State Warriors.
Jamil Abiad is a professional basketball trainer who hopes to use his influence and love of the game to continue to grow basketball in Canada. He's helped players get to the collegiate levels and even professionally overseas. I had the opportunity to sit down with Abiad to talk more about his basketball journey, the growth of basketball in Canada, and much more.
Originally for Abiad, basketball was something he did for fun when he discovered it at the age of 12. After that though, he wanted to take on a new challenge and to prove people wrong on that he could succeed in it despite picking it up later than others.
The challenge that people told him to stick to soccer and that he was "too short" were big motivators for him to try and take on that new challenge. He did just that by becoming a four-time city All-Star, a five-year player at Bishop's University with numerous accolades, and playing overseas in Lebanon (where his father is from).
As a trainer who tries to stand out, Abiad looks to make his methods of training as unique as possible. He likes to keep it "real" with his clients by making them think and implementing game scenarios. He follows up by adding that he explains to his clients why they're doing certain moves so they're able to understand why they use said move.
In line with implementing game scenarios, the Canadian also ups the intensity to make training more "game-like" as well.
Having met and learned from many different people, Abiad still recognizes his fellow compatriot and someone who got him into basketball, Merrick Palmer.
As a trainer, he also has been able to spend time overseas. This past winter, he had the opportunity to go to Gabon and learn from Craig Madzinski, who is the cousin to Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.
He also had the opportunity to work with former NBA player Luol Deng in Senegal as well.
Growth Of Basketball In Canada
Due to the success of the Raptors, the growth of Canadian basketball has spiked. More importantly, though, the grassroots level is starting to grow with coaches and trainers. Back in the day, coaches and trainers would try to go down to the States and now more are staying home.
With the number of NBA players coming from Canada now, the exposure is that much bigger. Now for the country, it's about building more resources.
Starting A Competitive Elite Basketball Team In Ottawa
Abiad is currently in Ottawa and the city has always had a big basketball scene. Despite a big scene, he says that it doesn't get the recognition it deserves because Toronto is a more well-known city throughout the world.
Players who thrive in the city either don't get the recognition or even have to leave the city to finally get the spotlight they duly deserve. Abiad started this (U-17 and U-19 programs) to give the kids in the city a chance to get that chance. His program gives more than what an AAU program would give including access to trainers, physios, psychologists, and more.
Despite a shortened year due to COVID-19, the team has excelled in their first year, winning a tournament championship and having other programs contacting the team about the players.
Currently, Abiad is employed in many roles from running is Elite Level Programs in Ottawa to being a Technical Director for Sahel Basketball and many more. With many different roles, one would wonder how he works around his schedule, but for him, it's all basketball-related so it's not like work.
Each role he said brings something unique to the table with his different titles, so that has allowed him to enjoy it more. He is able to network and meet different people, travel for camps, coach kids he's helped develop, and many more.
If interested, you can contact Jamil at his website found here. You can also e-mail him at [email protected] or find him on Instagram @jamil.abiad. Jamil offers many different services from private training, team training, film breakdown, and much more.
We would like to thank Jamil for having us speak with him and wish him the best of luck with all his endeavors.