Interview with coach Izzat Ismail

After returning to his previous team, Beirut’s first club, we had the chance to talk with coach Izzat Ismail, about his Last experience in the Tunisian superleague and hearing from him about his future plans.

First of all, how can you assess your successful experience in the Tunisian women’s basketball league?

– I cannot consider it successful, we were finalists but we couldn’t get the title for several reasons. I’m happy because I get the chance to work with the ESCB team and I do believe that with such strong management, the team is close to being on the top of the Arab and African clubs. The good thing that I was able to have a positive impact on the people that I worked with, it took some time to impose my rules, my philosophy my way of thinking, changing some habits, but in the end, things became better, knowing that we didn’t have the luxury of time

How come you returned to Beirut’s first club?

– Beirut’s first club is the reason for my success, I have a strong relationship with most of the managers. The team won the Lebanese championship last season under the supervision of coach Rodrigue Akl, who’s a player at the Beirut club. This season is charged, men and women teams have external participations so he cannot do both works, he had to decide between playing or coaching, and since he still has a long playing career, he decided to play.

How’s your preparation for the women’s Arab cup?

– Last year we were the underdogs of the tournament, this year we are the champions, so we have a bigger responsibility, defending a title is harder than winning it. We’re working hard for this objective, we have full support from the team management, our players are excited and hungry for this competition.

You are one of few coaches who worked in top women’s Arab leagues, how do you assess the level of women’s basketball in the middle east or in the country that you coached in?

– If I wanna talk about the Lebanese championship, the level of competition decreased due to the limited number of top players that we have an absence of the foreign players for the second consecutive year, due to the economic crisis. Egyptian championship is strong due to the high number of players that they have, and the number of games that the teams play every season. As for the Tunisian league, I do believe it is the strongest one, it’s a balanced league where you can find 5 to 6 teams competing against each other. But sadly there is an internal regulation in Tunisia where the player is obliged to stay with her team till the age of 28 to become a free agent, almost the end of her career, and this regulation might be an advantage for some clubs but a big disadvantage in terms of league progression.

In your opinion who’s the player that you consider the best in the Middle East?

– There are so many talented and great players, but in my opinion, Houda Hamrouni is an exceptional and unique player. It’s hard to find such talent in the Arab world. She can play with any Eurocup or Euroleague team easily, and I’m responsible for what I’m saying.

We heard that you will re-join your ex Tunisian team at the end of the Lebanese championship, how true is that?

– Yes, I will with pleasure, we have an unfinished business together.

Might we see coach Izzat leading one of the European teams?

– I believe that I will in the coming future.

Last words?

– Thank you brainbasketball for all the efforts that you’re putting into this game and special thanks to the Revolution Basketball Agency who’s taking care of my career in a professional way.