Lausanne, a small town nestled in the heart of the Switzerland countryside, may not be a name you’ve heard of before when it comes to basketball – particularly in terms of Irish basketball, but one man from Mayo is working hard to change that.
Meet Liam Printer from Westport in Co. Mayo. A teacher at the International School of Lausanne, Liam has worked hard over the last number of years to put basketball front and centre on the school map and what a job he’s done.
In just a short space of time, the school has gone from having no basketball team whatsoever, to boasting three different squads at different age levels going into the 2018/19 season - as well as a trophy cabinet bursting at the seams with silverware.
Having previously coached the likes of Aidan O’Shea and the Durkan brothers at St Gerald’s College in Castlebar, Liam moved to Switzerland back in 2013, and hasn’t looked back since.
“I arrived that September and we had our first trial session and there were only about eight girls there,” he reflected. “We worked hard with the girls, many of them new to the sport, and we decided to enter the European Schools Conference (ESC) in March of that first year. It was in Milan, and believe it or not, we ended up winning the entire tournament! We couldn’t believe it. We somehow got through an overtime game, and went on to win it out. The school was so delighted! The Principal couldn’t believe it either.
“The next year (last year), we built on that and we had some great girls on the squad and a good few coming through as well, so that’s when we introduced a second team to the school – an under 13 team.
“Last year, we went to the ESC again, in Geneva this time, and we won it yet again! Back-to-back champions! It was incredible. We had gone from having no basketball team at all, to suddenly getting this team together and winning back-to-back European titles.”
While this year has been a regrouping year, with many of the squad’s players having graduated at the end of last season, Coach Printer has still enjoyed remarkable success and is looking forward to next year even more
“This year was about regrouping, but we did win that SGIS A Category Tournament in November though for the first time in the school’s history. That was a pretty special day as Jerry – the other coach - was away so my brother, Anthony, came over and was my Assistant Coach for the day - the same brother who got me into basketball out on our driveway in Westport with a rusty old hoop nailed to a tree.
“It is all a bit surreal to be honest. We’ve gone from not existing to double European Schools champions and two League titles in the space of three years which is pretty extraordinary,” he reflected. "Now we will have three squads next year at three age groups, which is fantastic.
“There’s also another Irish coach here in Lausanne as well, which is really crazy. Elaine – the other coach – is bizarrely, actually from Mayo too, - Ballaghaderreen in fact - so that was really funny the first time we coached against each other and we went up to introduce ourselves only to find out we are from the same county. Two Mayo coaches in the same part of Switzerland, now that’s pretty cool.”