Australian coach Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Mills has been a revelation since joining the Kenyan technical bench in February, this year.
She is not only winning the hearts of Kenyan fans outside the court but also draws attention with her beauty and style on the court.
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.
After replacing Cliff Owuor, Mills guided the team to the continent’s flagship tournament just a few weeks after being handed the baton.
“Helping the Kenya Morans qualify is a dream come true. There have been a lot of ups-and-downs to get here, but I am very happy we achieved this.”
Mills, who became the first female head coach to lead a team to the Africa championship, has worked in Africa for the past decade having started her coaching job in Zambia.
In an earlier interview, Mills said her immediate concerns remained lack of experience going into a championship of this magnitude.
“As a team, our biggest worry is inexperience,” she said, “There are some issues that you can only sort out with experience,” said Mills.
Growing up in Australia, Mills dreamt of one day becoming a professional basketball coach.
From Australia, she 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.
“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,” she said.
Mills called on federations to do more to engage women and girls in coaching programmes. Mills also served as deputy coach of Zambia and Cameroon men’s basketball teams, before joining the Kenyan Morans in January.
After last appearing at AfroBasket in 1993, the team make their return to the top-tier continental championships in the Rwandan capital Kigali from August 24 to September 5. [Washington Onyango]
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.
Mills said the secret of her own success as a coach is derived from her philosophy of building good relationships with her players.
She 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.