ACB: Sitapha Savane, from the court to the box: “We want to be champions in social impact” | CBA 2022


After 18 seasons as a professional, four as a commentator and extensive preparation, the former player becomes president of the club of his life, Gran Canaria. “I kill my players in the weight room,” he jokes.

Savane, at the Gran Canaria facilities.EM

From the court to the box, going through a four-year transition as a commentator for Movistar. But the dazzling rise of Sitapha Savane (Dakar, Senegal, 1978) to the presidency of Gran Canaria with whom he played 303 games over nine seasons -with 488, he is the player not born in Spain with the most duels in the Endesa League- would not be understood without his ambitions beyond the field, from politics to international cooperation, passing through Business Management for which, as soon as he hung up his boots, he prepared himself by taking the prestigious ESCP Europe Executive MBA (he also has a degree in Economics from the Navy).

It was always clear to him that there would be a day after basketball.
I warn all players, the race is over. Some prepare for it, others not so much. In my case, I had already graduated from the Naval Academy and when I finished Students it was to enter an MBA. This position unites three aspects, that of basketball, that of leadership and that of business management. It’s a big part of the reason he accepted, because it’s also for the club of my life.
How did your appointment come about?
Here in Gran Canaria it is not surprising. My name had come up every summer since I retired. Simply, I received the call from the Cabildo [propietario del club]. They have been considering a change of cycle and preparation was not lacking.
Do you feel weird in the box?
For ideology no. If basketball has something, it is that it is a space for inclusion. To those of the left, of the right or any type of thought, we are united by their values, the love of the game. There I do not foresee any type of problem, nor have I had it. The difficulty of the box is to be seated, to control the emotions.
Starting with good results always helps.
I’m delighted, you have to applaud Lakovic and to the team. Being a president who was a player four seasons ago and who has played with several of the players on my team, I have a big brother relationship with them. Jaka asked me to be as close as possible. But sure, sometimes I kill them in the weight room. Stevic, who’s on leave, jokes that I’m going to take his job.
Savane, during a club act.
Savane, during a club act.GRAND CANARY

It is urgent to return to the Cup.
H.H. This is not hidden. The coach and the squad have it very clear. But he makes sure they focus on the next game and getting a little better every day. I really like his methodology and his way of thinking.
How was the club found?
There was division. She was seeing a different image of Granca than usual. Last year we reached a certain point, internal fights. The sports part was not so bad. But with all the negative noise… When they search for me, I understand that they find a consensus number one. I know something about basketball, I have training and desire. And the leadership part, I think I also showed it throughout my career.
Where does the growth of an average club go in an environment of crisis such as that of the ACB?
The basis is the era of Sporttainment. We cannot stay in the purist part. You have to work on this as a show and that is something that Antonio Martín is aware of. In terms of marketing, we must focus on the fans, which is the customer, and on being integrated into the local community.
How can you fight against the economic and sporting tyranny of Real Madrid and Bara?
That is a structural problem. Or not, because it is also a debate. Without Madrid and Barca we will surely lose a series of things like the League. There is no easy answer here. You have to fight from your position, with yourself, be the best version of yourself. My approach as a player was not if I had to, if I didn’t make it to the NBA I was a failure. It was: ‘Taph, you have to make the best of the eight feet that God has given you.’ If you leave knowing that you have done it, then you leave totally satisfied. This is what we have to do as a club.
How can a club transcend beyond sports?
A club has to have reasons for being that go beyond winning 16 or 19 games a season. The societal impact. Sport has a unique voice in our society, a great power to impact people, to make a difference in their lives. We have launched the Granca Commitment project, which encompasses our actions: reforestation, coastal cleanup, fight against bullying and violence in sports… Seeing professional athletes get involved is a great example.
But what the amateur wants is success.
It would be unbelievable to promise that in two years we are going to beat Madrid and Bara and win the league. But I can say that in two years we can be the champion in social impact within the ACB. I respect that there are people who chose a final. But we don’t have to choose, we are going to fight to the maximum to be as high as possible. And we are also going to have all the social impact actions in which we are going to involve our fans to once again create the feeling of family.
The NBA is the mirror?
Totally and not just the franchises. There the players’ association does fantastic things. Here, in my opinion, is not the case. At the League level, yes, we have seen the program against bullying that has been very successful. But I hope that on the part of the players’ union they are things in which they sign up.
Have you postponed many of your future projects?
There are projects that I have delegated, such as the social entrepreneurship between Senegal and Spain, because they literally affect people’s lives. This couldn’t be stopped just because of me. Go back to them because, as I said, I won’t be president for 10 years, far from it. Contribute everything you can and try to leave a certain stamp on the club.

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