Gathered during an internship in Temple-sur-Lot (Lot-et-Garonne), the French women’s U19 team continues its preparation for the World Cup, which will take place in Hungary from August 7 to 15. After a first gathering in early June in Mulhouse, the Bleuettes coach Arnaud Guppilliotte intends to take advantage of these sequences to perfect the game systems and create a collective bond between the players. Deprived of competition for two summers due to the Covid, the internationals of the 2002 generation advance without much certainty. The offensive leaders of this team, Serene Kessler and Aminata Gueye, seriously injured this season, will not have recovered all of their physical means. Still, the team remains “atypical” according to the former coach of the U17 women, double world medalist. Less talented than the generation of Marine Fauthoux and Iliana Rupert, the U19s will have to rely on their “homogeneity” to hope to glean a second charm at the World Cup, after that of 2013.
You did a first internship from June 7 to 11 in Mulhouse, before moving on to an internship from July 9 to 20 in Temple-sur-Lot. What do they bring you?
“The first camp took place with 20 players. We did a first staff review. It was not easy because of the Covid. We only had visibility on the players who play in professional teams (LFB, LF2). For the others, it was more complicated. The budget cuts and the shortening of the internship slots have affected the way we choose the players. We selected a small group. At the end of this internship, I will choose the 12 who will play the World Cup. “
Do you already have the twelve in mind?
“I have an idea of the group that takes shape as we go along. There are 6 to 7 executive players who are essential and already have international experience. Then we try to find complementarities and fit players. Injuries impact our choices. If a player is not recovered, we will take another. “
This is the case of Séréna Kessler (Tarbes), who ruptured her cruciate ligaments in November 2020. How is she?
” She’s very well. We did head-to-head today (July 14). If all goes well, we’ll organize a two-on-two tomorrow. She works with a physiotherapist, she does re-athletic training and individual work. Despite this, she should not play in collective before the end of the internship. “
The French U19 men’s team had only played 5 full collective training sessions. You have several slots to work with the whole group. Do you plan to play practice matches against other players?
“We did the Mulhouse training course with the U18s, who are preparing the Challengers. Three scrimmages took place. They are a very good generation. In Temple-sur-Lot, we will play them again three times. At our next meeting, in Voiron, we will face players under the age of 24 unsolicited by the senior France, U20 and 3×3 teams. There will be no international tournament to prepare. “
You took care of the 2001 generation, made up of Marine Fauthoux and Iliana Rupert, among others. How do you judge the 2002 and 2003 generations?
“The 2001 generation is a great anomaly. There was the alignment of the stars. Those who shine brightly: Fauthoux, Rupert, Wadoux and Chery. Behind, they are very calibrated players, like Ewodo, Pardon. There was a group with a very high intrinsic level. The 2002 group is different. The average level is more homogeneous. The generation is rather strong and atypical. There is no Marine Johanès, Marine Fauthoux or Iliana Rupert. Even if Séréna Kessler or Aminata Gueye come close. For now, there are uncertainties around them. They may only be at 70% of their potential, with reduced playing times. We lack players who can find solutions when things go wrong. It’s pretty exciting to get everyone back on their feet after almost a season and a half where the girls haven’t been able to play together. The playing times were very disparate. Some have played four minutes in LFB, others more in LF2 and some hardly in NF1 and NF2. “
“Our offensive talents are not great defenders”
The French teams, senior and young, invariably rely on defense. It was possible to observe him with the men’s U19s a week ago. For you, will the playing principles be the same?
“My watchword will be adaptability. Inside, there will obviously be defensive values. It’s our basketball identity. But we will have to force the opponent to adapt to our game, and vice versa. We have atypical players. Louise Bussiere does not have the same defensive impact as some but it has a lot of potential in attack. She will be one of the best players of her generation and of the team. Unlike the men’s U19s, who were stamped elite stopper, our offensive talents are not great defenders. We will have to balance the team. At times, we will be able to defend strongly, but others will have to be smart, like Russia or Serbia for example. Our leaders, Pauline Astier and Leïla Lacan, are not defensive beasts. We don’t have Matthew Strazel or Rudy Demahis Ballou, which are capable of exerting all-terrain pressure. “
What can France aspire to in this World Cup?
“There are always surprises. In Egypt, a quality spontaneous generation can occur, as in Senegal, Mali or Angola. We know that there are teams on which we have significant leeway. With the U17s, 2001 generation, we were in a pool with Japan, Colombia and Belarus. We knew that it was possible to rest the frames. This year, the competition bracket is very tough. If we are 1st in the pool, we avoid the United States in the quarterfinals. For that, we have to beat Brazil and Spain, two great teams. If this is not the case, we come across strong teams in the round of 16, either the Czech Republic, Canada or Japan. These are three great generations. The first three group matches will be finals, since you have to be the leader of the group. If you are able to play smart and find a great chemistry, nothing is impossible. “
Who will be your main competitors?
“The United States will present a strong team. There are no draft issues like with the boys. Italy has a golden generation, with a very gifted major six. It’s the style of play that we like. For the other nations, it’s difficult because we have no visibility on the continental championships. The images are two years old. But traditionally Australia will be there. Spain is still talented. Japan offers an atypical basketball, difficult to play for our team. Watch out for Canada, which has been working well with girls for a few years. There will be three very strong hens and one weaker one. It makes the competition unreadable. “