A character familiar to Denisian fans, a “rookie” coach in French professional basketball, he’s now official: François Sens is leaving Stade Rochelle (NM1) to succeed Rémy Valin.
The new Denaisien coach is known locally for having assisted Remy Valin during the 2017/2018 season and thus contributed to Team Denaisienne’s resounding victory in the Leader’s Cup in 2018.
He also “fulfilled his mission” by raising Avignon from NM2 to NM1, and today, without selling the bear’s skin before killing it, Sence is on track to raise Stade Rochelais this season. In Pro B.
While the Denisian club’s backstage has been rife with many rumors following the announcement of the emblematic coach’s departure in the past five years, Voltaire’s two strongmen, Johan Senez and Mehdi Challah, suppose they’ve spent some time thinking about it. Weigh and weigh the various candidates and proposed projects.
We went to meet the Trio of Dinaisean and so we were renewed who will have the difficult task of confirming Denin Voltaire’s ambitions in the French professional basketball second division, at the gates of the elite.
Scaldis: After such a difficult and amazing end to the season and the maintenance you had in the last game, we imagine you need to breathe. And for all that, we had to immediately position ourselves for next season, especially due to the departure of Remy Valin.
Johan Senez : I seem to remember we gave ourselves the weekend. We really needed him after Lil and Evro. And since Remy had already announced his departure to us, we already had the next stage in mind.
Mahdi Shallah : It’s true that after the feelings and tensions in the last two games, we had to go back a bit… and sleep a little bit too (laughs)… but it’s better to get back to work right away.
Scaldis: How do you hire a coach? How did you choose to nominate François Sens?
Mahdi Shallah Agents play their part. As soon as Rémy’s departure was known in the community, we started getting requests, half a dozen, all serious, showing that Denain Voltaire is an attractive and thoughtful club.
Johan Senez : Hiring a coach, as you can imagine, is the most important topic. And personally, this is a first for me, because Remy was already on contract when I took office in 2019. So we decided to give ourselves time, to dissect the projects, and then interview the candidates because necessarily for this kind of position, the human side is key.
Scaldis: So why choose François Sens?
Johan Senez : It’s simple that he had the best project, he did the best interview, and the main thing in my eyes was the most hungry and the most desirable in the job. You are introduced to a certain number of values, and fighting spirit, that stick to Voltaire’s DNA. He knows the club, its spirit, its history and its representatives, and in all of his situations he has shown real will and strong determination.
Mahdi Shallah : It is true that immediately matched. The interview was a real motivator. And we were able to work very quickly in full osmosis. Once the hiring process is complete, we set out to work on building the team, and we’ll tell you more about it shortly, but the GM coach duo is flexible and doing well.
Scaldis: The name of Pierric Poupet, Denain’s former captain, circulated until it was announced in the specialized press.
Johan Senez As usual, those who know do not speak, and those who speak do not know. I keep the exchanges that may have existed and wish a good continuation for Beric, who is a good guy with a career in Asfail.
Scaldis: François Sence, while Stade Rochelais is about to rise in Pro B, why choose the Denaisian Project?
Francois Sens A few months ago, the stadium management told me, regardless of the sporting results, that the story that brought us together will be finished by the end of this season. So I was able to contact Denain Voltaire very freely while continuing the job at La Rochelle, since Pro B is now communicating with us.
Scaldis: Is Denain Voltaire kind of homecoming for you?
Francois Sens: I knew other clubs before and after my season in Denin, but it is true that this team was the most composed besides Remy Valin. Then in the life of a coach or assistant coach, you don’t win the Leaders Cup every year! I can’t wait to find friendly, familiar faces there who keep the club running every day. And then I’m from the North, from Cambrai, so obviously coaching a club like Dineen is a great opportunity and an honor for me.
Scaldis: Are you following in Rémy Valin’s footsteps?
Francois Sens He is the coach who distinguished me the most when I was his assistant, we are friends in life and we have a lot in common. I know I can call him in case he gets hit hard. But I also come to my own personality, my own ways of working, and my view of things.
Johan Senez : There is only one Remy Valinn and I know he will be performing in Voss alongside my friend William Rafa, the club president. A change of coach for a club is an opportunity for a new cycle. We will give everything together to get there.
Scaldis: For several years, Denain Voltaire has marked a high-profile movement in terms of professionalism, communication and marketing. Will this strategy continue in 2022/2023?
Mahdi Shallah : Yes, sure, it’s the mission message that the president and the board of directors have given me. There was a change of lights in the hall from sodium to LED, allowing for real performances on match nights, paint work, new screens, a change of seats that were finally in club colours, a bus flowing in our colors… This uplift, this institutional aspect, is a guarantee Seriousness and credibility in the French professional championship.
Then at the same time, we continue to meet the requirements of the LNB regarding the professionalization of our structure. It is true with the training center that we are awaiting approval and which brings a step into hell for the club.
Scaldis: What are the ambitions for 2022/2023?
Johan Senez : The season that has just ended has shown us the danger of a place in Pro B, and not just for Voltaire, for clubs with bigger budgets as well. As we say at home, “The piece that has been swallowed no longer has any taste.” I consider that we have to fight to survive in Pro B and that we are clearly not there for life. There is no automation. Next, we’ll see if there is an agreement with Disney if the Leaders Cup is renewed: it only makes sense with the final at Disneyland, and we probably have the same feelings with Francois as in 2018!
And for the rest, nothing is forbidden to us: over the past three seasons, we have finished seventh, fifth and tenth. The first and second ended without matches because of Covid and this year we lost them with one win. So anything is possible this season, we will fight and work for it!