Handball. Guillaume Saurina: “Continue to be at the top of the table”

Guillaume Saurina will take up the post-Hamani challenge in Pontault ©MAXPPP

A new president Thomas Gineyat the helm of the yellow and blue house since February 2022 and today a new coach, Guillaume Saurina arrived fresh from Nantes (Neptunes), the PCHB continue its transformation in view of the next season. The new Pontellois coach explains his career, his motivations and his ambitions with Pontault.

do you see yourself introducing yourself?

Guillaume Saurina: I am forty years old, married to a former professional player, Camille Ayglon Saurina and father of 2 children, Milo 8 years old and Louise 6 months. I am a former pro player who spent time with the clubs of Villeurbanne, Nimes, Chambéry, Bucharest and Nantes, where I finished my career at 36, the year we reached the Champions League final with the HBC, final lost against Montpellier in 2018. In parallel with my career as a player, I passed my coaching diplomas and very quickly I started in Nîmes from baby-hand to the training center. I intervened at the training center in Nantes. A freelance in Bucharest when the coach fell ill and then the opportunity to take the reins of the Nantes Atlantique Hand-Ball women’s team presented itself. I took up the challenge and for this first experience during the 2020-2021 season, we are going to the French Cup final and we are winning the European Cup. The second year, more complicated, but we stay in the nails, but the management decides to call on another coach.

How did this signature at the PCHB take place?

No longer fitting into the plans of the Neptunes de Nantes, the new name of the club, I was quite disappointed and surprised to end this adventure in this way. But the position of coach is very exposed. As long as you haven’t been fired, you can’t really consider yourself a coach, it’s been done. So, on the market, I was quickly in contact with the Pontault club. I was able to free myself and come and discuss with the management of the club, with Thomas Gineys, the president. The project that I presented to them convinced them, my way of working also seemed to appeal to them. We exchanged a lot, and in the end, the club decided to trust me for the job for the next two seasons. I was able to attend the Proligue play-offs, meet a few players and even if my contract did not resume, I gradually returned to my duties.

I will build on what has been done

Guillaume Saurina

Pontault will be your first high-level experience at the head of a male workforce…

Yes and no, because when I coached young people from the training center, many were in the national team or played in professional teams. In Bucharest, on was on a high level. Afterwards, we talk about handball, the girls of Nantes are very efficient at the highest level. It’s not something that scares me. The hand is my DNA and there, we speak the same language. I can’t arrive in the unknown and my experience will be very useful to me in this great challenge.

What are your goals for the 2022-2023 season?

There are a lot of things to prepare when you discover a new club, a new staff, a new workforce. The enormous work carried out by Cherif Hamani for 4 years favors my arrival in this position. Before talking about objectives, I will greatly rely on everything that has been done, adding my personal touch. It’s really a plus for me that facilitates my integration. There are things to anticipate, a summer preparation to complete, training to prepare, interviews to finalize, complete recruitment and leave with a staff. I discover a new universe and new people. We discuss regularly with Cherif so that the transfer of power is as successful as possible. The objective is to continue on what works well and which worked very well to maintain the club in the high level of French handball. Far be it from me to turn everything upside down, but I would have my say for the good of the team.

Pontault is a historic club

Guillaume Saurina

What do you think of the Proligue championship?

It’s a championship that I know very well. I played there for several seasons. Over 17 years of professional career, I had to play 5 seasons in Proligue, with two climbs. So I know the requirements of this level and the difficulty of doing well there. The Pontault club is a historic club in French handball, so you have to continue to be at the top of the Proligue table to still play in the finals and consider joining the Starligue. This step remains the hardest to climb, but we will still prepare for it with seriousness and ambition.

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