Women playing basketball at Illkirch-Graffenstaden by Luc Pflister



centre circle at Illkirch-Graffenstaden © womenbasketball-in-france.com

While most of our coverage in women playing basketball has been about the players on the basketball court and their achievements, we also have other objectives:

One of them is to look behind the scenes and try to explain how clubs actually function.

When we started this site Illkirch-Graffenstaden was a club in NF2 (3rd division in France) with ambitions to move up to NF1. The structure of the club has not changed much since our first mention of the club in March 2008.

But today after just one season NF1, they are considered to be one of the best clubs in France.

The stars of the team have always been the players but most of the success of the club in recent time would not have been possible without the help of an important member off the court.

In the amateur world of women’s basketball most of the club presidents work on a voluntary basis.

Luc Pfister © womenbasketball-in-france.comThis is also the case for the Illkirch-Graffenstaden president, Luc Pfister.

On the morning of the forthcoming match against Union Hainaut Basket Saint Amand (UHB-SA) he welcomed the visiting club for their practise session. He got the backboards in position and brought out the practise balls.

However Pfister’s job is much more complex. He has to manage the club’s finances and then make sure that all the teams have equal treatment when it comes to travelling for games as well as editing the club magazine.

As a banker Pfister’s understanding of finance certainly gives him an advantage.



When Illkirch-Graffenstaden had been offered a chance to join the LFB last season, he had to decline because he was not sure about the support from sponsors as he explained in the audio "we could not take the risk" .

In the first part of the audio interview he briefly described the structure of the club and the relationship with the professional section of the SIG which concentrates on men’s basketball.

He then quickly looked back at the history of the women’s team and the success during 2007-2008 with the NF2 title and Trophée de la Coupe de France féminine.

He added that in the same season the minimes (U15) had also become French champions. However he forgot to mention that his club had also won the Crédit Mutuel cup to complete the grand slam.


Luc Pfister spoke in French about the club’s ambitions for the women playing basketball for the first team last season and how the season had finished. He concluded the interview by talking about the new players and the current season.

You can listen to the full audio about the women playing basketball at the club by clicking on the media player below and also read the English explanation below of the interview which is divided in several sections.


Women playing basketball at the SIG

Pfister went into detail about the philosophy of the club.

He explained that although the club had gained promotion to NF1 last season, the objective of the club was to retain its amateur status.

This was achieved as well as to maintain the family spirit of the club. It was also important for the administrative structure to stay the same while looking for a few players that would make the team more competitive.

Youth internationals wanting to join the women playing basketball in NF1 with the SIG

Allison Vernerey playing for Mulhouse © DNA.frThe first piece of luck was that Allison Vernerey (left) had asked if she could join the club for one year.

With the relegation of her home club Mulhouse to NF3, she wanted to play with a club close to home (100km) that could offer her the opportunity to play at a higher level without having to leave home or change schools.

In addition Animata Konate and Darline N’soki had decided to leave the structure of USVO to come to the SIG.

All three players integrated within the structure of the club and everything went well for the season.

Objective: Avoid relegation

Luc Pfister confirmed that the original objective of the club had bee to avoid finishing in the relegation zone by trying to win at least 10 games.

However as things turned out the club won a lot more games. He believed that this had happened because the club had not been under any pressure and the young ladies just wanted to do well as a team.

Allison Vernerey was a key factor in the success.

Philippe Breitenbucher © SIG AmateurBut all of this could not have happened without the coach Philippe Breitenbucher (right)who has been at the club for 30 years.

It was Breitenbucher’s passion for the game that Pfister believed was one of the factors for the success last season.

Breitenbucher like many of the coaches in the lower leagues are volunteers, a fact confirmed by Pfister.

Breitenbucher is a SVT (science) school teacher in the high school (Lycée). However he had been finding time during the past 18 years to coach the first team.

Reason for not moving up to the LFB and what’s next

The season ended with a qualification for the NF1 final four and an invitation to move into the LFB.

But as Pfister explained, they had to refuse despite the financial support that would have come from the local and regional councils.

However they did not get any answer from their other sponsors. So he decided not to take the risk in moving up to the top division but continue to play in NF1.

He admitted he did not know if this was a bad decision and only time would tell.

Lina Brazdeïkyte,Chloé Westelynck , Bettina Kadila and Charline Servage  © DNA.frThis is also the case for the Illkirch-Graffenstaden president, Luc Pfister. They knew that they had to look out for players to strengthen the team.

Yet once again they had the luck that players asked to join the club. This implied for Pfister that the image of the club was good and that the new players would invest in the club’s culture.

The new players in the picture from left to right:
Lina Brazdeïkyte joined from COB Calais.

There is Chloé Westelynck from the CFBB and a member of the Wattignies connection.

Bettina Kadila came from the youth basketball academy (USVO - UHB). And finally there is Charline Servage who wanted to stay in Strasbourg after a season with the now defunct Strasbourg ABC.

Westelynck was seen by Crawford Palmer who recommended her to the club. Westelynck who finished high school a year in advance is also a full time student at university.

She joins the long list of players at the club who are in higher education.

The club has also integrated players from their basketball academy in the training roster. This is discussed in more detail in an article about the basketball academy at the SIG.

Summary of the 2009-2010 season so far

Luc Pfister the man behind the scenes at the SIG © womenbasketball-in-france.comThis interview was conducted in the morning before the match with Union Hainaut Saint Amand.

Pfister talked about the defeats against Pleyber-Christ and Val de Loire (Tours). This had been games they were expected to win.

But the law of sports dictated otherwise. All the same the team picked up an important victory on the road against Lyon, a team that had not lost a game since April 2008.

He was looking forward to the match that evening with UHB-SA because he believed it would be an interesting match.

He said that their opponents would start as favourites but the SIG would do what they could to try and win the match. Whatever was going to happen, it would be a good game.


Return from women playing basketball news to the Nationale Féminine 1 index page

Return from NF1 Basketball news to women playing basketball blog page

Listen to audio interviews from women playing basketball in France from other countries.

women playing basketball picture credits:

womensbasketball-in-france.com
Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace (DNA)
SIG Amateur

Date created: 20 October 2009


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