Argentina Olympian Keen to Open Basketball Academy in Dubai

Argentina Olympian Luis Scola is considering opening a basketball academy in Dubai following his first visit to the city last week.

Winner of a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and a bronze in Beijing four years later, as well as two silver medals at the World Cup in 2002 and 2019, Scola was in Dubai for a charity dinner hosted by Argentina football legend Javier Zanetti, who is now Vice President of Italian football giants Inter Milan.

Trying to make the most of his short first trip to Dubai, Scola has been driving around the city, admiring its many landmarks, and visited Dubai Sports Council as well, where he was received by Nasser Aman Al Rahma, Assistant Secretary General of the Council.

One of the few athletes in sports history to have appeared in five Olympic Games as well as five World Championships, Scola said: “I have been here a short time, but I have been impressed. I have been talking to the people a little bit about the history of the place, and they were telling me that 20 years ago there was nothing here, and I was like, ‘that’s impossible’.

Scola is seriously considering the idea of opening a basketball academy in Dubai, which could give young athletes the chance to learn from an Olympic medallist.

Speaking of working in Dubai, Scola said: “We have talked a little bit about it [opening an academy in Dubai] and I think it would be great. I will be happy to talk more about that. I believe that Dubai is slowly becoming the centre of all these events, and the perfect place to do all these things. So I will be happy to do some stuff here. I think it would be great.”

A dual Argentine-Spain national, Scola is currently based in Italy, after re-joining Italian professional basketball club Pallacanestro Varese as their Chief Executive Officer in September this year. In the summer of 2020, he had signed with the Varese club for his final season as a professional basketball player.

Scola’s playing career started in 1995-96 in Argentina, at the age of 15, and three years later he travelled to Spain, spending nine years there. A three-time All-EuroLeague selection with Spanish club Tau Ceramica, he signed with the Houston Rockets in 2007, and was voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.

Later, he played for the Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets, spending 10 years in the NBA before signing for Chinese club Shanxi Brave Dragons in July, 2017.

For all his travels and success as a club professional, though, the Olympic gold he won at the 2004 Games in Athens remains his favourite memory.

“The Olympic gold medal is very hard to beat,” said Scola, who also won a gold medal with Argentina in the 2008 FIBA Diamond Ball tournament as well as two FIBA Americas Championship (2001 and 2011). “Every time you win an Olympic medal, that’s probably got to be the most important thing.

“To me, the World Championships were also important because it looked like we were not going to do it again, but we were able to reach the final again, 17 years later, in 2019. So I think that was very, very satisfying.”