Saint Amand and Fabrice Courcier

Saint Amand Team Picture (Photography 2007-2008)

Official team photograph 2007-2008

Fabrice Courcier, Saint Amand’s head coach, not only spoke about his professional players but also about the role of youth players:

One of the requirements of clubs playing in the Ligue Féminine de BasketBall is that they have youth development academies (centres de formation).

Saint Amand’s academy is beginning to reap the rewards of their development. The second team, the Espoir team, and currently top of their group in NF3 is looking strong for promotion.

The U18 team have had a perfect season so far and have assured their place in the Division one for next season after winning their group in the national championship. The second part of the U18 championship starts in March and Saint Amand should be looking forward to challenging for a place in the final four.

Courcier on recruitment

This is the third season for Saint Amand in the Ligue Féminine de BasketBall and the second year for Courcier.

Fabrice CourcierCourcier explained that in his first season he did not really have the time to work with the President on recruiting because at the time he was still under contract with BCM Graveline in the LNB (Pro A Ligue Nationale de Basketball - Men).

The recruitment normally starts in April and is over by May. Courcier only arrived in June 2006 and decided with the President, Bernard Loison, that the objective for the season 2006/2007 was just to survive in the LFB.

He added that last season was a roller coaster season with the high points, their victories against USVO and Villeneuve d’Ascq. The lows were games they should have won but managed to lose.

Last season it became apparent to him that the majority of the players did not have the same ambition as him. So it was decided to work on the development of their centre de formation and do the best possible. All this was part of the learning cycle.

This resulted in developing a new senior team for his second season with Saint Amand. Only three players remained from the 2006/2007 team.

Courcier said that he was looking for a set of players that would compliment each other as well as have the talent. So far the results in the first part of the season have shown that his staff and himself have made a good choice. The players get on well together on and off the court and they also integrate with the up and coming players from their youth programmes and especially their Espoir team.

You can listen to some of Courcier's comments in French:

(Note: If you are using Internet Explorer click twice on the triangle)

About Fabrice Courcier’s track record in the professional game:

He is always giving opportunities to young players. Last season, although he came late to the club, he managed to attract Clarisse Costaz who was not 21. He also added Fanny Ploegaerts, then 19 years old, to his first team. Clarisse CostazCostaz (left) unfortunately injured herself while playing for the French U20 team during the summer 2006. So she spent most of last season out with injury but has recovered and won a bronze medal at the U21 world Championship. Ploegaerts, a product of Saint Amand, won a bronze medal last summer with the U20 team at the European Championship. Fabrice Courcier continued his thoughts on youth development: He added Mélanie Plust and Laëtitia Kamba, who are still youth players, to his roster this season. Courcier explained that the best he can do for the young players who evolve in training is to offer them some time to play with the first team. Of course there is a hierarchy in the team but is important for the established players to know that there are players pushing to maybe take their place. And it is essential that the team mates have confidence in the young players when they play. You can listen to his short comments about Plust and Kamba and his wish for youth development and the French national team:

(Note: If you are using Internet Explorer click twice on the triangle)

European qualification as an objective

At the beginning of the season the objective was simple: do much better than last season. On a personal note Courcier explained that he wants the club to finish as high as possible. So he has informed the players that they should be thinking of trying to qualify for Europe next season.

Courcier is of the belief that the new play-off format actually benefits Saint Amand. He went on to explain that besides Bourges Basket who are the top team in the LFB, there is not much difference between most of the clubs.

This implies that Europe is a possibility next season for Saint Amand, a participation in the EuroCup Women should be a minimum. But if the opportunity arises and they can destabilise the hierarchy they would not mind picking a FIBA Europe EuroLeague Women spot.

This would be a great achievement for the club and also give something for the younger players to work for in the future. As Courcier believes that the quality of the national team may improve by the clubs like Saint Amand allowing young players to play minutes with the first team.

You can find more information about the basketball academy (centre de formation) on this site by following the link above.

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Team picture is courtesy of the Ligue Féminine de BasketBall.

Date: 11 February 2008

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