Ndongue and Garnier excited by the action in Bourges
BOURGES (FIBA U16 Women's European Championship 2017) - Back in their former home, ex Bourges star Emmeline Ndongue and France senior women's national team coach Valerie Garnier enjoyed opening day at the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship 2017.
For the retired Ndongue, who represented Bourges for much of her career and played with so much distinction for the national team, she is continuing to be a role model for aspiring French players through her media work.
An ambassador when she was lacing up her game shoes and now on the sidelines, Ndongue has urged the current crop of French youngsters to make the most of the experience.
She is also trying her best not to over-analyse, but simply enjoy the show in Bourges - one which started with France posting a big opening day success against Turkey.
"This is the first international competition for these players and so in a way it's entering the sphere of the world's leading players," she said. "Of course, you're neither professional, nor senior, but it's still the first step in that direction.
"I want to think that I can watch as a player, but actually being on the outside, it feels like I'm looking on and seeing things as a coach. I analyse the game, I watch the players. I'm encouraged to see this generation of players coming up. I feel basketball has changed since the time when we were playing as youngsters ourselves."
Garnier echoed those sentiments, while sitting in the Palais des sports du Prado, where she masterminded EuroCup Women glory for Bourges back in 2015.
"I'm fairly relaxed, but I do look on as a coach. It feels good to watch some basketball and to be calm," she smiled. "Playing at home at some point is going to help this (U16) team. In the tough moments, the fact of playing in France is going to come in handy.
"These young French players know the history of Bourges Basket. So playing their first competition in a mythical venue like Le Prado is something they will remember for the rest of their lives - or at least I hope they will."
She continued: "Thanks to YouTube.com/FIBA, I have also watched the U19 Women (FIBA U19 Women's Basketball World Cup 2017) and the U20 European (FIBA U20 Women's European Championship 2017) and it enables me to do an assessment of the players for French women's basketball and to review the potential talents."