For Karim Souchu: once a coach, always a coach! In the garden of his house, the coach of the French 3×3 Team is handing out his instructions as always. Not to the players on the national team, however, but to one of the sport’s future hopefuls: his own son! At the age of 14, the apprentice basketball player, a member of the Club Baloncesto Estudiantes in Madrid, returned home to spend the lockdown period in France where his father-cum-coach is taking him through his paces!
Between his son's training sessions and his daily physical workouts, Karim Souchu continues to monitor how his players are getting along via the social networks: “They all post fitness videos, I follow them via the social networks. They're all top-level athletes who are used to following instructions. The frustration comes more from the fact that they aren’t playing matches, considering they had 4 hours of training every day. But for those who are at the end of their contracts, the uncertainty comes less from the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 than from the question of what they should do next in their careers.”
We're talking about 5×5 basketball club contracts. Because this is the main difficulty for the 3×3 staff to manage: getting the players to play a discipline that is marginal to their main activity: five-a-side basketball. But, paradoxically, the lockdown measures may well provide 3×3 basketball with an opportunity for further development. “The president of the Federation really emphasized the fact that 3×3 could be a major player in the recovery. Everyone realizes that we have a role to play.” And all the players will be craving the chance to be competing again...
Although they keep a sense of proportion when talking about the impact of the current health crisis, Karim Souchu and Richard Billant, the coaches of the French national team, are obviously very disappointed after having “slaved away” for over a year to get the team ready to travel to Tokyo. However, they see this setback more as an opportunity to get people talking about three-a-side basketball and one more year to get the men's and women's teams qualified.