It is a historic day.
A day that forever marked the history of French basketball.
This Sunday, September 23, 2001, the French women's team won, on its land, at Le Mans, its first title of European champion.
Another will follow in 2009. The French then discovered the smiling faces of Yannick Souvré, Isabelle Fijalkowski or Cathy Melain, Audrey Sauret, Nicole Antibe or Sandra Le Dréan.
“In 1999, we were vice-champion of Europe in Poland, that's good but, in the media, we were only interested in 2001, remembers Yannick Souvré.
I was in demand because I was the captain and maybe a good client (
I took part in shows like those of Laurent Ruquier or Thierry Ardisson, where basketball players were never invited at the time.
The emotions are still so strong
Twenty years after this first coronation - the competition should have taken place last year but was postponed due to the health situation - the Blue are launching this Thursday against Croatia their new continental campaign with "very high goals", according to coach Valérie Garnier.
The only ambition is to bring the cup home after failing in the final in the last four editions.
🇫🇷 𝗪𝗛𝗔𝗧 𝗔 𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗠 🇫🇷 # RT to encourage 𝗕𝗹𝗲𝘂𝗲𝘀 💙 before the Euro!
🏆 # EDFBasket pic.twitter.com/iAbpxlGs7k
- French Basketball Teams (@FRABasketball) June 15, 2021
Despite the years that have passed, emotions are still strong for Yannick Souvré.
"You have time, I hope," smiles the former playmaker when talking about this past.
It was one of the most extraordinary moments of my career, there are so many memories.
"On the personal ground also because his parents" followed him during the whole competition "and because this Sunday September 23 is also the day of birth of Mika, the first child of his sister.
“She gave birth during the final, laughs the person concerned.
The birth announcement was the photo of the baby with the gold medal around his neck.
Her boyfriend was furious because he couldn't see the end of the match.
My sister was crazy too.
"I had only one desire, it was to stick one to him"
Beyond the personal anecdote, this victory at the Euro represents the culmination of a long and intense work started with the Bourges club under the orders of the Russian Vadim Kapranov (Editor's note:
former coach, died at the beginning of the month
) and continued with Alain Jardel in selection.
“We started from afar, with the France team, we played in the C division shortly before, remembers the former captain of the Bleues.
We weren't really into DIY anymore.
The previous year, we were the first female team from a French collective sport to qualify for the Olympic Games (
in Sydney, they finished 5th
). We had three months of preparation where we trained three times a day. We were pros even though we didn't have the same means as today. We did not have the same accommodation conditions as the boys either, as is now the case. For Sydney, the boys were lodged in a nice hotel in Capbreton with their families, and we, in an Ibis hotel in Pau with two players per room, we dried our clothes in the room. I was fighting with the DTN at the time, Jean-Pierre de Vincenzi, to get daily allowances - I am not talking about match bonuses - which were the same as those for the boys. They became the same the year after my retirement… ”
During the competition, the player with 243 selections also had to deal with the moods and the susceptibilities of each other.
“A team is very fragile, we see it with the French football team where a sentence can be misinterpreted, explains Souvré.
Giroud says an unfortunate sentence and another interprets it backwards.
I lived it, I took it upon myself to calm certain situations.
🙌 𝐒𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐆𝐫𝐮𝐝𝐚 writes the 𝐇𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐢𝐫𝐞 🇫🇷
She overtakes Isabelle Fijalkowski, holder of the previous record.
And becomes the best scorer of all time 🇫🇷🏀 @ Sandrine_Gruda #GOAT #EDFBasket pic.twitter.com/ypz7aMQw6e
- French Basketball Teams (@FRABasketball) June 6, 2021
In particular with Audrey Sauret, one of his great rivals of the time. "I played in Bourges and she in Valenciennes," continues the current director of the Women's Basketball League and high-level clubs at the Federation. We weren't giving each other gifts during the season… it's not easy. But as captain of the France team, I had to set an example. At the time, we weren't friends, which is the case now, because we were very competitive. She was up against Alain Jardel but, for the good of the team, I put my humor in my pocket to tell him that everything was fine when I had only one desire, it was to stick it to him a. There is a prescription now but it proves that the balance is fragile, that we have to work constantly for things to go well. "
This is now part of the little stories of a great adventure that unites them forever: “You have to remember where you come from and pass it on to young people. These young people who start their Euro this Thursday with the ambition to add a third cup on the shelves of the French Federation. Yannick Souvré believes in it. “I see them go to the end. There are girls like Sandrine Gruda who are at the top, there is a balance between old and young, there is a plethora of players and, over the duration of a competition, it is important. We will have to pay attention to the Belgians, who are growing in strength, and to the Serbs, who are not giving up, but I see them as champions. Word of an expert.