Ten defeats to start, only five victories in 18 matches in a season with three descents... The 2023-2024 financial year of the Basketball Club Maritime, which hosts Dijon on Saturday (9:00 p.m.), already had everything of a struggle, even of a dark season. It turned into a nightmare on December 25, when Sportica, its venue, disappeared in the flames, taking with them nearly forty years of history.
“It was a tragedy. It's like losing a loved one. I have not yet mourned, I remained in denial for a very long time. I didn’t realize what was happening to us.” says Hervé Beddeleem, sports director of the club in which he has held positions since its creation in 1984. It is in this 3,000-seat room, very large if we compare it to the 11,000 inhabitants of Gravelines, a town located along the sea of North, that the BCM trained and played its matches in Elite.
“Mentally, we took a hit with the Sportica fire,” breathes Marie-France Louf, president of the Irréducibles, a supporters’ association. I feel homeless. We no longer have a room.” More than a room, it is “an emblem” that the city has lost, according to this 77-year-old supporter, tattoo of the crest of the club that she has supported for sixty years on her right arm.
But once the flames were extinguished and the tears dried, we had to return to the game to try to save this historic French basketball club, with a meager record (a Coupe de France in 2005) but in the first division since 1988 without stopping. Very quickly, a wave of local solidarity allowed the BCM to continue its journey, a little further. The players now train in the Loon-Plage club facilities, a few kilometers from Gravelines. “A godsend,” according to coach Jean-Christophe Prat, who arrived in November to turn around the club.
But with less comfort. “Sportica was a real complex, we had the cold bath, the jacuzzi, the sauna, the shooting machine, we had access to it whenever we wanted... So for recovery, it's different,” explains Valentin inside Chery. However, there is no question of lamenting. “The message I tried to convey is: we have no right to complain,” says Jean-Christophe Prat. There are people who lost their jobs, because Sportica had 90 employees; there are people who can no longer take their child to the swimming pool, do judo or roller skating, because Sportica was not just a basketball hall. Life goes on."
That of the northern club is now written between Loon-Plage, Calais and Dunkirk. It is in the Calypso room in Calais that the club, whose emblem is a privateer, returned to sea, hosting Nanterre last Saturday, before weighing anchor until the end of the season for the Stades de Flandres , in Dunkirk. If the BCM is on the rise again, it is also thanks to the money from the Dunkirk Urban Community which notably made it possible to lay parquet floors in this room and to the reception of the USDK, the city's handball club, which usually occupies it. Nomadic, the BCM did not miss its reunion with its public almost a month after the fire, winning thanks to a three-point shot at the last second against Nanterre, in an atmosphere worthy of the great evenings of Sportica .
“For history, for this first match (at home) after everything that happened, to finish like that, it’s great,” smiles Jean-Christophe Prat. “We immediately said to ourselves: We are at home. It was huge,” rejoices Valentin Chery, for whom this victory constitutes a “source of hope.” “We see that in the ranking, nothing is done,” he says. (But) the teams see it: it’s hard to come and win at home, no matter where we play at home.”