ON the face of it, the challenges facing Glasgow Celtic and the neighbouring Glasgow Rocks, who play out of the Emirates Arena, may seem poles apart.

But an inspirational afternoon that senior figures from the city’s basketball side spent in the company of Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers this week blew them away to such an extent, that they are ready to apply the principles from his approach to the beautiful game onto the court.

Rodgers gave up four hours on Tuesday afternoon, in the midst of preparing his side for the game against Dundee that ultimately fell victim to the weather last night, to give an insight into how his approach to football management can translate not only across different sports, but equally to multiple walks of life.

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Duncan Smillie, co-owner of the Rocks and not one to be easily impressed by the sort of glib motivational speeches he was no stranger to hearing in his time in the business world, was taken aback by the experience. What he thought would amount to little more than a cup of tea and a nosey about Lennoxtown, turned into an afternoon that may alter his whole approach to how he runs his organisation.

“We’ve got a reasonably close relationship with Celtic,” Smillie explained when asked how the meeting came about. “We’re neighbours, for one, and David Low my business partner was the guy who brokered the Fergus McCann deal when he bought Celtic back in the 90’s.

“It was way, way more than I thought it would be. We were told that we would meet Brendan and his assistant Chris Davies, who has been at a few of our games. We thought we would get a look around, maybe watch some training and that would be it. But when we got up there, we couldn’t believe the time we got with Brendan. He really put himself out.

“He brought us into his office and spent a good half hour chatting to the players just getting to know who they were, and was genuinely interested in them. It turns out that his first sport was basketball, and he had played at a good level as a point guard back in Ireland when he was younger.

“He then invited us out to watch training. He came over to chat with us during the session, and then insisted afterwards that we have lunch with him, the players and the coaching staff.

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“We then went back into his office, and he made a presentation to us on leadership, coaching, tactics and mentoring. The guys were completely blown away, as was I, both in terms of how much time this guy was giving up, and just how inspirational he was.

“He’s a born leader, and someone with a passion for developing and nurturing talent. I’ve got a business background, and I was thinking that this guy could go and run Microsoft. It’s the same ethos, what he was saying about developing people and getting the best out of people.

“He was very intense, but in a good way, as he was sharing his philosophy on coaching. It sounds really twee, but it was really quite inspirational. His passion, his drive and his interest in what we were trying to do was very impressive.”

Smillie is hoping that the messages Rodgers was trying to get across during the meeting absorbed into the Rocks players present as much as they resonated with him.

“He told the players that they were professional athletes, and they owed it to themselves to be the best version of themselves that they could be,” said Smillie.

“It was really motivational. We’ve got some really senior guys in our team like our captain Kieron Achara who has been to the Olympics, he’s the Team GB captain and the Scotland captain, and he was sitting there saying that it was mind-blowing.

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“You don’t think that level of intellect and psychology is prevalent in Scottish sport right now, but that’s a guy who is absolutely at the top of his game.”

While Smillie will be implementing some of the lessons from the afternoon in the near future, it will be during the traditional summer recruitment process that he feels the words of Rodgers will be uppermost in his mind.

“It reinforced to me that during that time you have individuals, you have a care of duty and a responsibility to develop them,” he said.

“I’m less than a year at the Rocks, so I’m still very much enthused, but it has only enthused me more about what lies ahead.

“It’s made me think about the individual, how we set expectations of what we want them to achieve when they arrive and what they want to achieve.

“I took away so much about how I want to put that same philosophy and focus on development into the Rocks that he has at Celtic. He didn’t say that he had copyrighted it, so we’ll certainly be stealing more than a few of his ideas.”