Coaches Corner #02 | Interview with Franck Belen (France)

The knowledge about basketball is continuously growing. Tried and tested things remain, old things come back and new playing systems emerge and grow.

We want to make this know-how and wealth of experience accessible to all coaches worldwide. In an increasingly open and connected world, coaches around the world have access to a lot of information. We want to provide insights into the personal training philosophies and sporting approaches of many coaches on this planet. What makes them tick? What is their strategy? What is their focus? We are of the opinion that the knowledge about wheelchair basketball is unlimited.

Before we reveal Franck Belen’s philosophy and coaching approach, we introduce the French coach in a short interview.


What different teams have you coached?

“Having been a basketball coach for many years, I started in wheelchair basketball after the 2006 World Championships in Amsterdam, as a member of staff for the French women’s national team. I then worked with the French men’s national team from 2007 to 2012; with the South African national teams from 2012 to 2016; with the Spanish men’s national team from 2018 to 2021 and now with the Spanish women’s national team since the end of the Tokyo Paralympics. At the same time, I am currently coaching the UCAM Murcia BSR club and I am responsible for federal training courses in wheelchair basketball.”


Which players did you enjoy coaching the most? And why?

“It is always difficult to single out some players over others because it really depends so much on the parameters that one chooses to measure them on. For the intelligence of the game and the technical quality, I would say Jérome Courneil of the French team. He had such elegance on the court, whilst being very efficient. For me, he is the most beautiful athlete I have had the pleasure to coach, in basketball and wheelchair basketball combined.

For the desire and determination to stop his opponent at all costs, it would have to be Danny Stix of the Spanish team. He has all the qualities I expect from a defender and is an exemplary team player. If he didn’t love Madrid so much, he would be number one on my shortlist for my club!

For his love of the game and infectious smile, I would choose Lisolomzi Mazantsana from the South African team.

Last but not the least, Richard Nortje from South Africa. He is an exceptional player on the field, as well as an exceptional human being off the field.”

Franck Belen presents certificates of participation in the Dominican Republic – Photo: Hannah Schrauth

What is the most difficult team you have played against?

“I would say Canada, 2011-2012. Aside from the fact that they had that amazing player, Patrick Anderson, that team was a real engine that never stopped. It seemed like we were close to winning when we played them, but it was almost never the case and it more or less always ended badly for us! The problem was that the whole team was performing well. Not just one player. Patrick Anderson was able to bring out the best in all his teammates.”


What is your best memory as a coach?

“I would put two. The first is during the 2010 World Championships in Birmingham with the French men’s team. The semi-final against Italy, the former European champions, remains a strong memory. The boys managed to qualify for the final by defending in a very unconventional way. This shows that desire and a little bit of madness can sometimes overturn the predictions.

The second was with the South African men’s team. The team was completely overhauled after the London 2012 Games and reached the final of the African Championships in 2013, by beating Morocco in a match of rare intensity.”


And the worst?

“The absence of a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Games for the Spanish men’s team. They deserved so much better, but the circumstances and the quality of our opponents decided otherwise.”


 What is your playing philosophy in a few words?

“For the love of the game.”





Interview: Martin Schenk | Foto: Hannah Schrauth

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