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For Puigsegur and Saurina, "there is nothing that the girls cannot do"


Appointed respectively coach of Toulon and Nantes, the two former internationals judge for Le Figaro the evolution of women's handball and the interest of leading players.


Tuesday 2 September, at the Maison du Handball de Créteil.

Masked, the different actors of the Butagaz Energie League meet for the traditional start of the school year.

Except that after six months of abstinence, the happiness of finding each other turns out to be different.

Stronger, no doubt.

Like Laurent Puigsegur and Guillaume Saurina, who will lead their first season on the banks of Toulon Saint-Cyr and Nantes.

Knowing also that the first led the second to Nîmes ten years ago.

The opportunity, necessarily, to compare their vision of women's handball.

And to stay a little bit as well.     

How do the coaches feel when you start a season at the head of a Ligue Butagaz Energie club?

Laurent Puigsegur:


Much desire.

Given the somewhat anxiety-provoking context, it's complicated but I think the girls are ready.

They really want to start.

It's been a long time since they played.

Guillaume Saurina:

Just like Laurent, I'm excited.

We found our partners for the presentation evening and now we can't wait to find our audience and our room.

How did you manage to follow your players on a daily basis and prevent some from dropping out morally?

Laurent Puigsegur:

Whatsapp (laughs).

They were given a program.

For my part, I found that they had come back in a very good condition and that they had done the job well before.

Otherwise, we managed this unprecedented situation as best as possible with my physical trainer.

The goal was to give them marbles so that they arrive roughly in shape in July.

Guillaume Saurina:

It was very important to keep this social link with the girls, this collective state of mind.

We quickly integrated the new players into a WhatsApp group, we made videos on Zoom to explain where we were, what the different phases of preparation would be.

I insisted on the fact that the season was going to be very special and that the bond that unites us must be strong.

“You tell the boys to run, they run.

Girls, you have to show them the value of doing this, what it will bring them. ”

Laurent Puigsegur

How did you find yourself at the head of a female team?

Was it a desire embedded in you?

Laurent Puigsegur:

As far as I'm concerned, I had been training the French youth team for five years so I was fully in the middle.

Afterwards, I received a proposal from Toulon.

I thought about it a lot, I didn't say yes straight away, I admit it to you.

But I needed to take the field back.

The young French team is very pleasant, but it's a week here and there and I like to train every day.

It was a great opportunity.

Guillaume Saurina:

For my part, I finished my sports career in Nantes and I was given the opportunity to become an assistant coach of the women's team.

I seized this opportunity two years ago, which allowed me to work with Allan Heine, with whom I had a total collaboration.

At the end of his contract, he decided not to stay for family reasons and he offered to the leaders to give me the post of head coach.

He had told me about it before, we discussed it a lot and I decided to accept.

I am very honored by the confidence that has been placed.

Now, I want to work in the continuity of what Allan was doing while adding my personal touch.

Is it very different to coach girls?

Laurent Puigsegur:

Yes, it's different because you always have to give meaning to everything you do.

You tell the boys to run, they run.

Girls, you have to show them the interest of doing this, what it will bring them.

On the human level too, the management of emotions is not the same.

It is more exacerbated.

And then between boys, when there is tension, they go for a beer, they discuss and the next day, the problem is solved.

For girls, it's a little longer (laughs).

Guillaume Saurina:

I felt the same.

In the learning method, girls need to understand before doing.

I would also say that they are more grateful.

For boys, a coach who does his job well is normal.

For the girls, they are more grateful to have succeeded in a match which has been worked or to have had good advice.

It's very nice.

Otherwise there is less physical density in women's handball, so that leaves more room for coaches for tactical adjustments.

Did Camille Ayglon (wife of Guillaume Saurina and French international) give you some advice?

Guillaume Saurina:

I don't know this person (laughs).

More seriously, I can't do women's handball.

I have been with Camille for over 12 years.

I am the son of Patricia Saurina who created the Women's Handball League.

I've always been interested in it and I can't seem to get over it.

With Camille, we had some discussions.

But today, she is a player like any other.

And the way we have found to deal with this is not to talk about handball at home.

Laurent Puigsegur:

Me, my wife is a social worker, so I have no worries (laughs).

“I actually find that female play emerges a real collective intelligence.

It's very interesting to talk tactics with them. ”

Guillaume Saurina

How do you see the evolution of women's handball?

Laurent Puigsegur:

I am going to say something that will perhaps shock, but the more I watch it, the more I see the male game of the early 1990s. I find that it is similar and I agree with Guillaume on the importance of strategy .

We coaches really have a role in helping our team win, which was the case with boys in the early 90s when professionalism arrived.

The physical density was not the same.

Today, among the boys, very often, it is the team which wins the physical fight which is essential.

For girls, it's still a game of chess.

Guillaume Saurina:

When Laurent talks about the 90s, he's a bit harsh (smile).

I actually find that female play emerges a real collective intelligence.

It's very interesting to talk tactics with them.

Otherwise, all the teams have strengthened and the championship is becoming more and more competitive and attractive.

Did it take a little time for you to adjust to accepting that girls can't necessarily do the same things boys do?

Guillaume Saurina:

There's nothing they can't do.

Laurent Puigsegur:

In fact, the problem is that they put barriers themselves.

When I make them work on situations that end with kung fu for example, they look at me like: "Are we allowed to do that?"

But of course you have the right, and you can do it!

The combinations that I propose for my team, I offered them to Nîmes (which was part of Saurina at the time) when I was training them.

Guillaume Saurina:


So I'll have to take out my notebooks.

Laurent Puigsegur:

It would surprise me that you had notebooks (smile).

Guillaume Saurina:

Think again, you're going to be really pissed off (laughs).

But it is true that they put up barriers.

If we remove the physical dimension, tactically and technically, they are capable of doing anything.

It's really just a mental barrier that they sometimes put on themselves.

Hence the interest in offering them exercises that they are not used to to blow up this little lock that blocks them.  

Laurent Puigsegur:

In relation to that, I don't know what Guillaume thinks about it, but I think it's good to have foreign players because they have a different outlook and fewer barriers.

When the French see them doing training, it relieves them.

There is another barrier, more compact this one, it is the lack of media coverage of women's handball.

Do you understand this huge difference in treatment between girls and boys?

Laurent Puigsegur:

Already, the problem is not the media coverage of women's hand but of women's sport in general.

Do you see a women's sport on television today?


Now we know the reason and it is economical.

Which sports restarted the first?

Football, the NBA which made a $ 150 million bubble and F1.

However, the girls, today, economically, that does not bring anything.

The media are just following the trend.

Are you worried about its future?

Laurent Puigsegur:

Of course.

If we don't have supporters and VIPs in the room, we have nothing left.

It is our business.

In TV rights, we take zero and what gives us life are our partners.

If we can't make a VIP area after a game for our partners to invite their clients, we're going to be in trouble.

The luck we have is that the clubs are generally well structured and relatively healthy.

The basis is good.

But we must not hide that this season is going to be very difficult.

It's up to us to put on a quality show so that people can enjoy seeing it.

Guillaume Saurina:

It's a thorny subject.

Obviously, we would like to be more publicized because that would attract more partners.

We must work on this and for the moment congratulate ourselves on not having lost everything.

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Lighter question: which of you will finish higher in the standings?

Laurent Puigsegur:

In terms of budget, it must be Guillaume Saurina (laughs).

No, we don't think like that and the objective is to do the best possible with our workforce.

Guillaume Saurina:

Already, we will have to ensure the matches in the best possible way and allow our audience to return to the room.

Then we will talk about classification.

Laurent Puigsegur:

Yes, I agree.

And I add that the recruitment in Nantes was good.

Guillaume Saurina:

I also think that the recruitment in Toulon was not bad.

The proof, he took a former Nantes woman (laughs).

Does he call you when he stings a player from you?

Guillaume Saurina:


He hasn't called me since he fired me from Nîmes.

Laurent Puigsegur:


It was I who gave him his first coaching diploma.

Guillaume Saurina:

It's not wrong (laughs).   

Read also

  • Orlane Kanor: "I'm not apprehensive about the start of the season"

Source: lefigaro

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