In the line of various articles I have written about the future of national teams, I will today discuss France. Or let’s say, I will try. When I say “try,” I mean in fact that it is very difficult to discuss the future of a team that has no players (who still want to play for the national team) and no coach. Rumors about Ettore Messina, Sergio Scariolo or even Bozidar Maljkovic were relayed but for the moment, nobody has been signed. Or did I miss something?
The situation in France is currently very sad. After years of good results in youth categories which provided the nation with an amazing amount of talent, most young French players have now “arrived” in the NBA because to “arrive” in the NBA is the main goal among the current generation of French youngsters. And if all of them combined don’t even score as much as Tony Parker alone, they are satisfied and use their status as NBA player as an excuse for not playing qualification rounds in the Ukraine or wherever.
But what could be even more important is the fact that the French basketball federation is in coma. It has now been 16 years since former referee Yvan Mainini (among the top 50 most important figures in Euroleague history) was president of the FFBB. During his reign, France won a silver medal at the Olympics and a multitude of medals in both men’s and women’s youth basketball. Additionally, the French national team was a force for years while the women’s national team enjoyed some success as well. What looks bright at first sight is generally considered a nightmare for most observers of French basketball.
It looks like a change is coming, though. While the government decided to make its impact in sport federations by changing election rules and limiting the number of years of presidency, two new prospects have announced their candidacy for presidency of FFBB during the next elections. Thanks to Pascal from I Love Basket, I had access to the email that one candidate sent to the press in order to inform them of his candidacy. And the least one can say is that Jean-Pierre Dusseaulx knows how to get the media on his side: He has created a blog on which he will post his opinions and where you can follow his race to FFBB headquarters at Château des Rentiers (literally, “Castle of the Pensioners”).
So here are some of this retired journalist’s ideas:
Today, we are at the bottom of the bottom, destroyed by rugby and even passed by handball. We don’t exist in the national media where only the NBA counts. We could not profit from the Dream Team effect in Barcelona, which was only a flash in the pan compared to what happened in Spain. In 1995, we had 454,040 licensed players in France; in 2008. we have 455,117 if we really count everybody. An increase of 1077 in 13 years. What success!
Because of the concentration of our young players (at INSEP), France has had very good results on the international scene. But after, it is a collapse and all these young players are absent, with a few exceptions, from the professional teams of our league where the official language is now English. What a French Championship!
We can continue like this. Meeting and creating groups to think…with the same people that failed. French basketball cannot fall deeper but nobody is pointing out the errors. We can continue to accept with esteem the financial power of the NBA, we can accept the diktat of the Euroleague with batting an eye, we can remember sometimes that there is an international federation (FIBA) that is lying in deep coma and a European federation (FIBA Europe) which has no influence on anything. We can continue to make people think that we are important. Around a table with some good wine…
As you can see, Mister Dusseaulx is not very happy with the current situation and even goes for sweeping swipes at every body involved in federation basketball. The least one could say is that his name is now known, even by our readers. We’ll see if his ideas of change find the necessary support among the electors of the French federation’s governing body.
So how about the future of the National team? Well, I’ll come back to that as soon as a national team coach is named.