Blog de Sportiw

Yanis Anfinif : “I seized and created my opportunities!”

Hello Yanis, could you introduce yourself?

My name is Yanis, I’m 26 years old, a basketball player, and also a student. Basketball is an integral part of my life. I reached a high level because I seized and created my opportunities!

Where does your passion for basketball come from? Has any particular athlete inspired you?

Yanis Anfinif: I’ve always been influenced by both African education and American culture, and I wanted to get closer to that. Basketball found me when I watched Coach Carter, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. At the end of the movie, I told my mom that I needed to play, and the next day, we went to sign me up. I started playing, and after a season, I realized I loved it and wanted to make it my profession. This was also when Derrick Rose was rising to fame, and that truly solidified my decision to pursue basketball. That’s how I got into the sport. I started in a club with only training sessions at 11, and I joined a proper club at 13.

What have been the most memorable moments of your career so far?

Yanis Anfinif :There’s a part of my career that I don’t often mention, but I had the opportunity to play in the USA, though it didn’t go very well. Despite that, it was a dream come true for me to go to the USA to play basketball—it was a life goal. The day it happened, I was ecstatic. It changed everything for me: my playing style, my view on basketball, my goals, etc. That has been the most significant moment in my career so far.

What are the main differences between training and the approach to basketball in North Amercia and France?

Yanis Anfinif : There are two main differences, even though things are becoming more balanced now. When I went in 2017, the difference was in individual work and the seriousness of training. Collective training is important, but not the most crucial. In the USA, players would train on their own in the morning with a coach unrelated to their school, then continue with more sessions. In France, we would arrive just before training, and that was it. Now, in France, we’ve understood what’s necessary, which is why there are more French and European players in the draft classes. I had the chance to go to Canada after the USA, and it went much better. There, it was a mix of both approaches. My Croatian coach, who had coached only in Croatia, had an American approach to basketball. The main difference between the USA and Canada is academic—they strive to make us student-athletes, not just athletes.

You played in the USA and a season in Canada at the collegiate Division 1 level at Cégep de Saint-Foy. How did this opportunity arise, and how was your experience?

Yanis Anfinif : The USA opportunity came through a basketball camp in the summer of 2017, a gift for passing my BAC exams. The camp had weekend tournaments, and in Atlanta, a heavily recruited area, I had a great tournament and started receiving offers from prep schools and high schools, with some interest from Division 1 schools, though nothing serious. It was a dream. I accepted an offer from a prep school, but due to visa issues, it didn’t happen. For Canada, it was simple—I saw a Facebook post about a tryout for a chance to play in Canada. I attended the tryout, performed well, and the video was sent to the coach, who then recruited me. These opportunities fell into my lap, but I worked hard individually to create them.

You moved from R1 to NM1 in one season. How did this opportunity come about, and what did you learn playing at that level?

Yanis Anfinif : I worked a lot in a club where the assistant coach of Stade Toulousain Basket had coached for many years. He would often come to watch games. He had coached me when I was in U17, but I lost contact with him. After a challenging season due to COVID-19, I needed to restart. I accepted a role in the prénationale. That year, I trained every day and played in matches, scoring 40 points sometimes. One day, I got a message saying they needed a point guard for the expanded group and asked if I was interested. I accepted, performed well in the first session, and was asked to stay as a training partner until the end of the season. In February 2022, I was offered a contract, which I accepted immediately! It was tough because, at my position, there was Victor Mopsus, the best player on the team. Initially, it went well, but it’s a reality that this level is professional, and if conditions aren’t right, it’s hard to perform well. Despite financial challenges, I persevered, had some good games, and learned a lot. It’s an experience I’m proud of today.

Have you been inspired by Victor Mopsus? Did you learn from him or ask for advice?

Yanis Anfinif : Yes! Regardless of age or level, if I see something I can’t do and someone can guide me, I’ll ask without hesitation! He came to talk to me several times after games and practices to explain how he saw my progress, giving feedback. I valued that relationship. We shared similar qualities, like being strong defenders, which created mutual respect. Even though I was the least experienced, they respected me because of my determination.

What are your long-term plans? Are you interested in foreign leagues, and do you plan to play abroad in the future?

Yanis Anfinif : When Stade Toulousain offered me a contract, I was already considering playing abroad. After that season, I wanted to explore opportunities abroad, but they didn’t materialize. Now, if I don’t find anything for this season, I’ll prepare to try playing abroad. It’s something I’m passionate about for the next 3-4 years.

I heard you were responsible for a young women’s team. Do you enjoy teaching and mentoring? What do you like most about coaching?

Yanis Anfinif : Yes! During my civic service at my previous club before Stade Toulousain, there was some disorganization, and I ended up coaching U15 girls and U20 boys. It was enjoyable because we worked in small groups, focusing on individual skills, which I liked. However, overall coaching with strategy isn’t something I see myself doing long-term.

Has this coaching experience helped you improve your own game?

Yanis Anfinif : Yes, a lot. It emphasized the importance of details, like using the correct footwork or positioning, which makes a big difference. Seeing it from an outside perspective made me realize the impact of correcting small details.

How did you hear about Sportiw and what was your initial reaction when the concept was explained to you?

Yanis Anfinif : I don’t have the exact memory, because it was three years ago, the first registration. But I think it was on social media. Often, you put out an announcement that there’s a club recruiting. I think that’s how I must have seen the site and I thought to myself, it doesn’t hurt to try. I had very few contacts at first, because I think I mismanaged my profile. But I updated it this year, I had a few contacts that didn’t match what I was looking for, but it’s still a good connection with coaches, clubs, and seeing the offers. If you’re a bit curious, it’s interesting to see the profiles of the players as well. It’s a concept that should have been done a long time ago and the fact that the platform is working well makes things interesting! I think the platform should be much more popularized, because in my circle, there are a few people I know who use it but I think it would be even more beneficial if more people used it!

Have you had contacts with clubs or coaches through Sportiw?

Yanis Anfinif : I had two contacts, really, that could have led to a signing. I had two this year. And the first time I was on the platform, I had a call, but it wasn’t a serious proposal. But honestly, it works well. Afterwards, I think you just have to manage your profile well. For example, I hadn’t updated my departure from Stade Toulousain. I had put that I wanted to gain experience and I think no coach wants a player who needs to experiment. I didn’t realize that. I changed it to say that I had experience, that I was ready to play, etc. And then, my phone started ringing. It proves that it works well!

What message would you like to convey to others to encourage them to register on Sportiw? A word for those who hesitate?

Yanis Anfinif : There is absolutely everything to gain, in fact. There is nothing to lose, there is everything to gain. Whether you pay or not, whatever happens, it remains something that will create only positive outcomes. There’s nothing negative about being on Sportiw. Plus, 10 euros, today, you can think about 10 euros in a day easily, We always spend 10 euros badly. So, honestly, there’s no need to hesitate, for me. If I have to give advice, it’s that there is only positive to take from it.

Thank you, Yanis, what can we wish you for the future?

Yanis Anfinif : Honestly, I don’t know. Right now, it’s a very complicated period, I don’t know where I’m going now. I don’t know where I’m going to go. The offers I have don’t match, I think I’ll end up with a blank season, but if you can wish me good preparation, that’s fine!

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