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  • Writer's pictureSPSG Consulting

The Interview - Stefi Battle, CEO at Bàsquet Girona

It is an honor to have the opportunity to interview Stefi Batlle, CEO of Bàsquet Girona, a club that celebrates its 10th anniversary this year 2014. Founded by Marc Gasol (NBA champion, Olympic and world medalist with the Spanish Basketball Team, Vice President of Gasol Foundation and investor), it integrates more than 30 basketball teams, including men's teams (whose first team participates in Liga Endesa), women's teams, wheelchair basketball, 3x3 and eSports. Bàsquet Girona bases its positioning proposal combining the sporting part, with the rootedness to the geographical territory and with the development of the three axes of sustainability (economic - governance, social and environmental). In this sense, the club obtained the "seal" of Sports for Climate Action of the United Nations. Since 2021, SPSG Consulting has been advising the club on strategic issues, business development (sponsorship, club companies, etc.), innovation, market research and sustainability.

You have extensive experience in the sports industry, having developed your professional career in sports marketing agencies and, subsequently, leading the marketing and communication aspects of Marc Gasol and, for the last year, holding the position of CEO of Bàsquet Girona (whose first men's team participates in the Endesa League). What have been, in your opinion, the main characteristics of the evolution of sports in recent years?

There has been a lot of evolution in a short period of time, but I would highlight four things that I have been able to experience firsthand.

The first is the professionalization of sport in all areas: from the business structures of clubs to the treatment and operation of athletes. The sports industry generates a world GDP of 2%, and I believe that its professionalization is something very positive for all of us who work in it.

Another great feature for me is the evolution of professional sports into entertainment. The games are not only prepared so that the spectator can enjoy the sporting part but they also work to make a lot of things happen around them so that everyone (fans and non-fans) can enjoy the day.

Linked to this part, I would also highlight the participation of brands within clubs and sporting events. A brand is no longer only present with its logo but actively participates in the activities of clubs and events and creates stories around it. Sponsorship only with image no longer exists, it goes much further and this also allows clubs and events to be able to create more than just sport itself.

And last but not least, the rise of women's sport and the figure of women in sport. Both at amateur and professional level. Although here there is still a long way to go.

BÀSQUET GIRONA is a Club founded in 2014 by Marc Gasol, an iconic reference of world basketball, and in 2024 you celebrate the 10th Anniversary. Since its creation, the Club has been growing and there are already more than 30 basketball teams (male and female), apart from eSports (together with DUX), Wheelchair Basketball and 3x3 (with the best players in Europe, according to the ranking 2023), in addition to the creation of the Business Club, the Girona Sports Up (Innovation Hub of the Club), Clinics and campus, etc.. . as well as collaborating with the Gasol Foundation (Marc Gasol is its Vice-President, while Pau Gasol is the Vice-President of Bàsquet Girona). What are the main objectives and lines of action, present and future of BÀSQUET GIRONA? And what is its governance model?

As you have said in our short history we have grown a lot, we started 10 years ago with 60 players and now we are more than 450 boys and girls and 120 professionals working in the club. We are in a moment of professionalization with changes at a business and structural level.

The club is in the process of becoming a Sports Limited Company, which will group the professional teams. And on the other hand, we are also finishing the creation of the Fundació Bàsquet Girona that will group all the work we do with the boys and girls of the base, wheelchair basketball and will also allow us to develop more social projects that will make basketball can reach everyone.

We are very clear that our main objectives are sustainability and when we talk about sustainability we mean economic, environmental and social. We started to work on these 3 axes some time ago and we are following our future strategy towards this.

We are creating different business units to make the project economically sustainable. One of these units is focused on the creation of digital projects at the sports level, taking advantage of our experience in this area.

The axis of Sustainability, both social and environmental (apart, obviously, from the economic one, which is also supported by an adequate Governance), is of strategic importance for companies and entities related to sports. Basketball is one of the most successful sports in recent years, both at national team and club level. In BÀSQUET GIRONA, sustainability is one of the lines of identity that you are developing the most, with concrete and tangible actions and that has led you, for example, to have the seal of Sport for Climate Action. From your expert point of view, what is the importance of incorporating the axes of social and environmental sustainability in sport and what are the main challenges? And what is the importance of sustainability in BÀSQUET GIRONA?

We understand sport as a tool for social transformation and this is what we work on every day. Through basketball we believe that we can help, raise awareness and transform aspects of sustainability in different areas. We are fortunate to be a loudspeaker and we have to take advantage of this loudspeaker to help create a better world.

There are many clubs that have been doing great social work since their creation, and I believe that just as companies are becoming more and more aware of environmental sustainability, so are clubs.

As you have said in Bàsquet Girona, sustainability is our line of identity. Four seasons ago we started the environmental sustainability strategy with some challenges per season that we try to achieve every year. These range from the elimination of paper in offices and ticketing, to the reduction of plastic or making the facilities more sustainable, for example.

On the other hand, social sustainability is also very important for Bàsquet Girona, so we work with schools and organizations to bring basketball closer to everyone, in all areas. One of the projects we have is the Mindset program that together with Caixabank we work with English and sport in the schools of the area. Another great project is the broadcasting of the games for blind people, where visually impaired people can experience the game in detail thanks to the description provided by the narrator.

Sponsorship, certainly, goes far beyond brand visibility, and more and more companies conceptualize it in a strategic way, integrating objectives of brand reputation, revenue generation, hospitality, market expansion, alignment with customer loyalty strategy, hospitality, alignment with talent loyalty strategy, etc.. BÀSQUET GIRONA has a relevant list of sponsors, with prestigious brands such as FIATC, Kave Home, DingoNatura, CaixaBank, Hyundai, YoSoy, Estrella Damm, etc. What are the main axes of the value proposition of BÀSQUET GIRONA for the sponsoring brands?

The main axis of our value proposition is characterized by a firm and active commitment to environmental and social sustainability. We work so that basketball becomes an axis of social transformation in all areas. This work is something intrinsic that is worked on by the entire club: players, workers and fans.

Other important axes are entertainment beyond the sporting part or the successful sports model with the base.

We are fortunate to have partners who have helped us to grow with the project. With our main partner and health partner, Fiatc, we have been working for more than four seasons and with them we have initiated the health area, raising awareness of the importance of taking care of oneself mentally and physically.

It has also been four seasons since Caixabank and Damm became partners of the club and we have worked with them on different social projects.

We team up with Kave Home, Yosoy and Hyundai for all environmental awareness and action programs. Actions ranging from waste collection in forests, rivers, etc. to sustainable mobility initiatives.

The sports industry generates, globally, between 1.5%-2% of global GDP and 3.3% of GDP in Spain, and it is evolving rapidly. As an expert in the sports sector and with a robust experience, what do you think the sports sector will be like in 2030?

Digitization and consumption of sport will greatly shape the future of the sports industry. We have been seeing the evolution in recent years towards faster, more personal, more natural and exclusive content. This will progress more and more, making both sport and brands adapt to it.



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