Why Kenya Morans Coach Elizabeth Mills wears black leather boots on the court
By Washington Onyango | August 31st 2021
Australian coach Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Mills has been a revelation since joining the Kenyan technical bench in February this year. After replacing Cliff Owuor, Mills guided the team to the continent’s flagship tournament just a few weeks after being named to the helm.
Mills, who became the first female head coach to lead a team to the Africa championship, has worked in the continent for the past decade having started her coaching job in Zambia. In an earlier interview with FIBA, Mills said that her immediate concerns remained lack of experience going into a championship of such magnitude.
“As a team, our biggest worry is inexperience,” she said. “There are some issues that you can only sort out with experience,” Observed Mills who also worked as a consultant with clubs and national teams all around the continent.
When she was growing up in Australia’s biggest city of Sydney, Liz Mills dreamt of one day becoming a professional basketball coach.
Little did she know that she would end up having fame thrust upon her thousands of kilometres away in Africa, where she has made history as the first woman to coach a men’s basketball team in a continental tournament.
After a decade in Africa, Mills is now head coach of the Kenyan Morans and is currently leading them to their first AfroBasket championship in 28 years.
From Australia, Mills started out on her African adventure in 2011 in Zambia, where she coached the Heroes during the 2011-2012 season and they ended up winning the national championship.
Mills says she is now proud to be a “pioneer” as a female coach.
“I hope that I’ve been able to inspire especially female coaches in Africa to start working with men’s teams as well as women’s teams across the continent.”
But she says that in 2021 she should not be the first woman to be coaching a national men’s basketball team, and called on federations to do more to engage women and girls. Having served as deputy coach of the national Zambia and Cameroon men’s basketball teams, Mills joined the Kenyan Morans in January this year.
After last appearing at AfroBasket in 1993, the team make their return to the top-tier continental championships taking place in the Rwandan capital Kigali from August 24 to September 5.
“Qualifying the Kenyan Morans is a dream which has come true. There have been a lot of ups-and-downs to get here, but I am very happy to have been able to achieve this.”
On the court, she wears knee-high black leather boots and black jeans along with a red team polo shirt, saying the heels give her “more inches” alongside the towering players.
Mills saw the Morans edge out 11-times African champions Angola 74-73 in Cameroon in February to break their almost three-decade absence from the continent’s basketball showpiece. Asked about the secret of her own success as a coach, Mills puts it down to her philosophy of building good relationships with her players.
Mills hopes to build on that philosophy as she looks to lead Kenya to greater heights.
Kenya is drawn in Group C in the opening matches of AfroBasket along with former African champions Nigeria, as well as Ivory Coast and Mali.
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