Inside IBC: Pavel Kricka

Not unusually for a professional photographer, finding a decent picture of Pavel is really quite challenging (Image: Geoff Hindle, we believe)

Over the course of the 2016/17 season, we’ll be bringing you a series of interviews with volunteers from around the club, shining a light on the various roles required to keep Ipswich Basketball running smoothly. This time, it’s the turn of Pavel Kricka, to take us through his innumerable different roles and long history with the club and some of its (other) long-serving names. How did you get started with Ipswich Basketball Club?

Pavel Kricka: There’s an obvious answer to that, and he’s the head coach!

My boys, Nick and Will, started playing basketball when they were teenagers, so I’d go along and watch them play. Inevitably, there’d be a job that needed doing – say the shot clock, for example – so being a dutiful parent I went and helped out. So I learned how to do the clock, and all of sudden I was a lot more involved in basketball than I ever thought I would be.

The real involvement with IBC dates back to Bernard Ball asking Nick Drane and myself to start a boys’ programme at Ipswich Basketball Club, so we started there together – I was his first team manager.

IB: And was one of your means of ‘stepping up’ being asked to take some pictures?

PK: I think I started taking pictures when we did one or two East region squads, Nick and myself as coaches together, so I started taking pictures a little more seriously when we did that. I bought my first digital camera, and one thing leads to another, and I found myself upgrading equipment, and got completely sucked in!

So you weren’t a professional photographer in ‘life before basketball’?

No, certainly not professional – I’m a programmer. I’ve always taken photographs, but as a process of photographing Ipswich Basketball and my son playing in his band, I got more and more into it. Having got better at taking basketball photographs, my interest grew in photographing other things too, and once I retired, it became a possibility that it could be a ‘job’!

IB: How long have you been coaching?

PK: I started out as the team manager, then I learnt to referee (badly) so I did that for a little while, and then my son Nick and I took a coaching course (run by Bernard’s son, Michael Ball). The year after that, Nick (my son) and I ran the under-15 team at Ipswich, so I head-coached for a couple of years, and have been assistant coach to a couple of people since then. I’m currently Amy Linton’s assistant with the under-16 girls. In all, probably five or six years.

IB: What’s the most fun to photograph: the lively atmosphere and frenetic style of a junior game, or the higher athleticism of a senior game?

Pav’s camera isn’t always trained on the court…

PK: I think the important thing is that there is such emotion in all of them. What gets my attention is that emotion, the effort that people will put in to do something well. When you see someone driving to the basket, invariably you know there’s going to be a good moment there somewhere. The commitment and the raw power that’s being put on the floor, that’s what draws me in and makes me press the shutter.

IB: You’ve been running the club’s website for a couple of years now, too: that’s another example of you stepping in to help the club out.

…or even in the gym

PK: I think if you look at my basketball CV, you’d probably find I’ve done most things apart from secretary and treasurer! But you do end up doing a lot of different things. It’s like a start-up company – there’s a job that needs doing, and you look around and think, “Well, we haven’t got anyone to do that, so I’d better start doing it.” When you start doing it, you start thinking, “Right, now how am I going to get out of doing this…

It’s so vital that people keep stepping up, because if they don’t then the club dies because no-one new is getting involved. Bernard and I took up the chair and secretary positions for a while, because we needed to move the club on, but the aim was always, “We’ll do this to achieve an objective, then we need to find someone else to come in and push it further.”

IB: Does Ipswich Basketball do a good job of getting volunteers involved?

PK: Fortunately, at IBC we’ve never been short of people to stand up and do these things, and that’s all down to the culture at this club. I’m around local sailing and tennis clubs, and there don’t tend to be many people volunteering, perhaps in part because everyone has to pay a fee to be there. At the basketball club, the kids are the ones doing stuff, and parents are there doing everything else for free.

IB: And we’ll be continuing to see you around the club and the Academy a lot again this season?

PK: I’d certainly expect so, yes – certainly around the senior team and the Academy games. I enjoy providing pictures for the newspaper reports, which gets us a bit more notoriety, and I naturally attend Academy games, particularly the girls’ games, as I am a host to one of the players.

IB: If one or two new people want to come and photograph Ipswich Basketball Club, how do they get started?

PK: It’d be great to get a couple more faces on board providing photos, especially of the junior games, as it’s pretty much just Nick Winter and myself at the moment. Anyone can come and do it, you just have to think about equipment – you can’t use flash, there’s not much light in the gym, and it’s a very fast sport, so you will need a decent set of equipment to do it.

But it’s possible! I started out with inexpensive equipment, and I got something presentable.