Sitting at 14th in the Premier League table, Sunderland is surely aiming to finish in the top half by season’s end, but what will get them there?
Manager Gus Poyet believes that playing basketball could actually improve his side’s play on gameday, and according to The Guardian, a basketball court is one of the newest additions to the Black Cats’ training ground.
“Basketball can help in football, especially with marking,” Poyet said to the English paper. “The way you turn is similar in both sports. The problem is basketball is not very popular in England – but I’m going to make it popular.”
Poyet’s father, Washington, was a Uruguayan basketball star who competed in the 1960 and 1064 Summer Olympics. The 47-year-old boss has had experience playing the sport since he was 15 years old, although he decided to focus on soccer instead.
Poyet then explained a specific scenario which is almost parallel between the two sports he know best.
“If you play basketball certain movements become natural,” he said. “There was a full-back in our game last weekend, somebody was running at him and he was turning, looking at the goal – you cannot mark like that. You mark facing the player and the ball and that’s the same in basketball.
“You never see a player in basketball running towards his own basket to mark without looking over his shoulder. These little things help you because you have to mark in a certain way.”
The ex-Chelsea midfielder even wants to meet head coach Fabulous Flournoy of the Newcastle Eagles, a squad from the British Basketball League.
“I’ve been to watch Newcastle Eagles but I haven’t met him yet,” he said. “If we brought him to the training ground, we’d learn something for sure.”