There are stories written about inspirational coaches in the history of sports who trained their disciples to be world champions.
Sachin Tendulkar, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, Michael Phelps, and many more legends always remember their coaches and trainers. And attribute their success to them.
From a young boy, who used to watch the game from afar while grazing his goats, to one of the best coaches, Coach Anish Thomas’ journey is full of passion and unbreakable spirit.
A self-taught athlete who got rejected at the of 15, wore his jersey for the first time in Thalassery for Pathanamthitta District in Junior State Championship after crossing all the hurdles with rigorous and tough training.
Reaching a position without any support where people recognized him as a player made him give back to his nation by grooming more players. He decided to help others achieve what he could not after he hung up his boots.
In 1999, a former teacher late. Joe Kurian invited him to become a Basketball coach at S. C. Seminary Higher Secondary School, Thiruvalla. As a coach, it was a challenging role for him to train children about the game.
To give the right kind of mentorship first camp started with 180 students in the school, he wholeheartedly helped them with their skills and made sure that they do their best on the court.
To sharpen the coaching skills, he participated in the Trainers’ Training Program at Thiruvananthapuram in 2001 and came back with a more professional approach. His team departed with 6 rising players to compete in the championships after completing the camp.
“This is from where my real journey starts as a coach. I always tell my children that despite all troubles, we aim to play for and represent India. I kept my players focussed, to come out on top.” proudly says Coach Anish Thomas, a quiet and rock-solid wall behind some of the emerging players in the last decade.
A keen observer of the game, Coach Anish Thomas has an eye for details and improved his coaching skills over the years. In 2001 he passed the C Panel Referee Test and in 2003 became the State Referee.
A long-awaited pinnacle moment came in his coaching career in 2004 when one of his players Kenny Susan (now Professional Basketball Player at Central Railway) wore the Kerala Team jersey in the national level championship.
In 2005 he went to the national panel after passing the National Referee Test. And the next year in 2006, his celebration doubled when Kenny Susan got selected for Under-15 Indian Team Camp.
From 2006 his team created momentum on the field by playing almost all finals and defeated top contenders who were dominating the state championships for a long time. A power-packed team won the All Kerala Winners’ Cup twice in 2007 and 8 times in 2009.
“It was the rising time of our stars who were very competitive and played against well-trained sports council players. Everything was made possible due to the huge support from school management for nurturing players for the games. All the teachers took care of the studies of players who were in the teams. This is my biggest achievement, I helped them to raise their game to become the best on the court.” recalls Coach Anish Thomas, who coached some of the leading star players like Kevin Mathew Lalu and Sejin Mathew.
“I always take care of the children who are rejected by other coaches, weak in studies, or financially backward. It gives me the utmost happiness to help them master their skills. Today if you know Coach Anish Thomas, it’s not because of who I am, it’s because of those players who sincerely worked very hard with unbelievable dedication and unshaken commitment in these years.” adds Coach Anish Thomas.
He joined the Viswajyothi College of Engineering and Technology, Vazhakulam in Muvattupuzha, Kerala, in 2010 after his glorious 10 years of service at S. C. Seminary Higher Secondary School, Thiruvalla.
Under his mentoring from 2012 to 2014 for three consecutive years, the college Team kept holding 2nd position in the Mahatma Gandhi University Championships. Again his coaching style done wonders to break the dominance of art colleges in the University championships.
Coach Anish Thomas created a new template for training, combining the traditional way of coaching with international standards that led him to become Coach of Under-17 Kerala Basketball Team (Junior Schools State Team) in 2013 that participated in the National Championship in Rajasthan.
In 2015, he got appointed as a coach of the Mahatma Gandhi University Basketball Team. During his tenure, the team’s performance improved and grabbed the third position in Junior State Championship in 2018.
“ I was concerned about students left behind in the admission process who excelled in sports, it made me feel sad, but then I selected deserving students under sports quota. Under this system, we looked after their studies and other priorities.” continues Coach Anish Thomas.
To become a better mentor each day, Coach Anish Thomas never stopped learning through books, notes, and videos. He believes that a coach’s role is not limited to just coaching for the game. He should be a parent of each player, should be their best friend and best teacher. One has to treat them equally to bring out the best from each player.
To inspire more young players in the game, he joined the Bethany Academy School, Vennikulam, Kerala, in 2019. As a result of his brilliant training, 7 of his disciples participated in National Championships.
Anyone can meet and know more about this inspiring coach at Sparkle Academy, Municipal Basketball Court in Thiruvalla, where he coaches young and bright future stars every day. And also one can contact him via Facebook and Instagram.
“I remember each setback I have overcome and the battles I have won. A journey started with a shoe received in donation, Rs. 50 borrowed from a friend’s mother and other Rs. 50 given by a sister, I always take pride how far I come.” sums up Coach Anish Thomas.