Listen to the article

First division basketball clubs enter the 2023-2024 season with each team aiming for a specific goal. Some are looking to win the title, others are content to qualify for the semi-finals, while some are struggling to stay in the comfort of the upper zone, avoiding the threat of relegation that seems inevitable for Leaders and Dynamo, who are in eleventh and twelfth place respectively. They will not be participating in the championship and will therefore be relegated to the second division.

While the spotlight is often on coaches and players, our topic today is the presidents of first division clubs.

Let’s start with the Lebanese champion, Riyadi (Beirut), presided over by Mazen Tabbara, elected to the helm of the prestigious Beirut club a few years ago. He succeeded Hisham Jaroudi, who led the club for almost 25 years. Tabbara, a determined president, guides the club with professionalism and has won numerous local and international titles during his tenure.

Let’s move on to La Sagesse. Elections by acclamation have led to a new board chaired by Ragheb Haddad, following Elie Yahchouchi’s resignation from the presidency a short while ago. The Green Castle, an old club, has had several presidents since its creation in the forties of the last century, the most notable being Antoine Choueiri, who chaired the club from 1992 until his resignation in 2004.

As for the Beirut club, it has been chaired by “the gentleman” Nadim Hakim since its creation a few years ago. The club reached the heights of success in record time, winning the Lebanese championship (men’s and women’s), the Lebanese Cup and the Arab championship for men’s and women’s clubs in just a few years, thus becoming an example of a successful club. Nadim Hakim, together with the club’s members, wrote the club’s name into the annals of the men’s and women’s Arab League history, as well as the men’s and women’s Lebanese championship and the Lebanese Cup. Hakim was frank when he said he had started to realize his dreams with the Beirut club, having chaired Hekmeh for some time before founding the Beirut club. He is known for keeping a close eye on his club’s affairs and was elected vice-president of the Arab Basketball Federation. He is also known for his nerves of steel.

Jassem Kanso presides over the Hoops club, which he founded and led to success, notably in developing the skills of young people. Kanso, a former Lebanese international player, has succeeded with the Hoops club, transforming it into a thriving institution with a presence in several regions. He played for many years with Club Sportif (Beirut) and the Lebanese national team in the 90s, distinguishing himself in the number 4 position. He is also known for his diplomacy.

The sixth club is Homenetmen, recently chaired by Haig Tabakian, who succeeded the previous table tennis champion, Rafi Moucheghoyan. Tabakian, a man who works away from the limelight, has played an active role within the Homenetmen club family, but the basketball business was handed over to Guy Manoukian after he was appointed by the club.

The Maristes (Champville) club has been chaired since 2017 by Akram Safa. Safa doesn’t like to show off in the media and works behind the scenes. He has considerable financial resources and is recognized as the wealthiest president. Safa was an athletics champion in the last century and distinguished himself in this field. He is the brother of the famous businessman Alexandre Safa. Akram Safa has handed over the presidency of the club’s basketball committee to Ibrahim Mounsi, who is responsible for running the team and choosing the technical staff and players with total authority. We haven’t seen Safa lose his cool at any of his team’s games.

Antranik has been chaired for several years by Vicken Cherchian, who also holds the post of treasurer at the Lebanese Basketball Federation and has been Antranik’s “strong man” for many years, overseeing the club for decades and reaching the top of the clubs in Lebanon.

Badih Souaid has been president of the NSA club since it recently moved up to the first division. Souaid is a basketball player and the brother of former international player Nadim Souaid.

Finally, the presidency of Antonins in Baabda is currently held by Father Michel el-Saghbini, who is also President of Antonine University. The Antonins club is unique among first division clubs in that it is linked to a private university.