Bougeant: Pride and revenge don’t win trophies
After 15 months spent in Russia, Rostov-Don’s French coach Frederic Bougeant already knows what his future holds. At the end of the current season, he will move back to his home country – but he has a mission to fulfil before that: lead Rostov-Don to the Women’s EHF FINAL4, and maybe more.
Following a 31:29 win away in Hungary against FTC last weekend, the hardest part on the road to Budapest might already seem taken care of. But Rostov’s coach thinks differently:
“For me, FTC is part of the European top six. Of course, the advantage we gained there, in what I think is the toughest arena to play in, is an important one. But if you look at the last five years, Ferencvaros is a very stable team. They know how to react when they're in trouble, and I can't think they’ve been shaken too much. They'll clearly come to Rostov wanting the turn things around,” says the 43-year-old.
Only six defeats in 15 months
After being knocked out by CSM in the quarter-finals two seasons ago, Rostov were eliminated from the Women’s EHF Champions League following the 2016/17 group phase. And that was when Bougeant took over the duty as coach, in January 2017.
Since then, to Bougeant’s pride, the team have lost just six matches in 15 months. Such a record is quite an achievement, especially considering the squad have faced the likes of Györ and Bucuresti in the Champions League this season.
But, ask any specialist, and they will tell that Rostov is definitely on the way up at the moment.
“That was actually our plan, for the girls to be fully fit come April, when the matches count the most. Nobody’s injured, all the girls who had babies are now back in full form. We worked a lot during the break in January, but it feels we’re getting better with every game,” says Bougeant, who now wants to proceed as far as he can in the most prestigious European club competition, after leading Rostov to the EHF Cup title last season.
One might think that not playing among the best of the best last season would fuel a hunger for revenge in Rostov camp, but the situation is almost the opposite.
“Pride, revenge…these concepts only work for a very short frame of time. You don’t win trophies or qualify for FINAL4s relying only on that. When I hear my girls talking like that, I always try to calm them down, and make them realise that we’re aiming for the long run,” says Bougeant.
No distractions off the court. It seems as though Bougeant’s approach has been working very well. He might not speak more than a couple of sentences in Russian (“The manager wants to keep the club international and he would rather me speak French, English and Spanish,” explains the coach), but on court, the players are breathing life into their coach’s ideas.
15 months ago, Bougeant flew to Russia in order to set new challenges for himself and live a new experience, both on and off the court. “I’m very happy I've been able to keep the club carrying on with their progress,” he says, before revealing how deeply rooted the connection he has with his players is.
“I announced I was leaving very early, back in November. But I wanted the players to arrive in April with their minds completely focused on the game, and not about what the future of the team would be.
“For sure, they didn’t appreciate the news that I was leaving, but now, they all know what will be going on next season. And you can feel it on the court. Their minds are released of all problems when they play,” concludes Bougeant. Rostov’s players will definitely need that focus on Saturday, so they can finish the job started in Hungary and qualify the club for its first ever FINAL4.
The draw for the Women's EHF FINAL4 will take place next Tuesday, 17 April, at 18:00 hrs. and will be streamed live on ehfTV.com and the EHF Champions League Facebook page.