Toronto's Roy Rana, the first visible minority person and Indo-Canadian to be named head coach of Canada's men's basketball team, says the opportunity is "tremendous."

"It's incredible that someone whose parents were both born in India can be the national team coach of basketball in Canada," Rana told CBC Toronto's Dwight Drummond. 

Last week, the Ryerson University coach was named to lead Canada's men's basketball team for the upcoming FIBA Americup 2017 and its first World Cup 2019 qualifying matches.


Roy Rana will serve as head coach of the Canadian men's basketball team for the upcoming FIBA Americup 2017 and their first World Cup 2019 qualifying matches. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

"I'm not sure that can happen anywhere else in the world," said Rana, who has been playing the sport since elementary school. 

"It just makes me tremendously grateful of being Canadian and even more proud."

'The beauty of sport'

Rana led Canada's under-19 men's team to a historic gold medal at the U19 World Cup in Cairo last month.  

"That's the beauty of sport," Rana said. "Sometimes when it's least expected magical things happen." 


R.J. Barrett, 17, of Mississauga, Ont., earned the FIBA U19 World Cup MVP on July 9, highlighted by his performance against the Americans in the semifinals. (Twitter/@Cdn_Ballers)

The win was the country's first-ever title at a World Cup FIBA competition.

"This group was special," he explained. "They just came together and they fit nicely. They sacrificed for each other. We had some great performances and we went on a magical run." 

The team upset the United States 99-87 in the semifinals and then roared past Italy 79-60 in the final.

"It was certainly was a special moment for all of us, something we will never forget."

'They can dream the same dreams too'

Now the Toronto native, who grew up playing on courts in the Bloordale Village area, is hoping to inspire other visible minority people through his success. 

"It also is a responsibility and hopefully it is something I can use to inspire others — whether they're brown, black, Asian or mixed race. If somebody can see that I have been able to, through hard work and some great relationships and some luck, to get to this point, hopefully they can dream the same dreams," he said. 

Roy Rana

Roy Rana, left, grew up playing basketball in Toronto. (CBC)

Canada men's basketball team is taking on Argentina for the Americup from Aug. 25 to Sept. 3. 

Following the AmeriCup, Canada's pursuit of a 2019 World Cup berth will continue with the Americas qualifiers, where 16 teams will compete for seven World Cup spots.

Canada will face Bahamas, Dominican Republic and the United States Virgin Islands in Group D. The Canadians open against Bahamas in Halifax on Nov. 24.

Canada is currently ranked eighth in the Americas and 24th in the world.

With files from Dwight Drummond