|Role:||Head Coach of men's football club Claremont Foot FC, France|
Article by Corinne
When Clermont Foot offered me the job as coach, I said yes because I could not be sure the opportunity would come again. I was looking for a job, I had sent my CV to lots of teams in women’s football and had not received any responses. I was thinking about becoming an assistant coach to a team in Ligue 2. They called me, so why should I say no? I knew that by saying yes, my main image would be the woman in a man’s world, but it became the only thing people said to me. From my point of view, Clermont Foot needed a coach, and signed me to be coach. The media talked about me more as a woman than a coach. I had played for Soyaux and the national team but I had never been a professional. After high school, I studied to become a PE teacher, but I stopped after three years and took my diploma in football. When I was playing I had the opportunity to go to the United States when a new professional league was being set up. I made a checklist of pros and cons and the cons won out. I was playing for France every month and I thought I would lose efficiency on the pitch if I was travelling all the time. I did not know which team I’d be playing for as it was a franchise system. A coach who was making his shortlist called me but he didn’t know his team either.
Football became my career by a natural process. I had several other jobs, but not one that could really make me happy. In 2009, I decided:
let’s go for it. I have to try. It was not easy to decide because my world was women’s football. Apart from Lyon, Montpellier and Juvisy,
and you can add Paris Saint-Germain today, there were not that many opportunities. I found something in Soyaux where the president allowed me to start a global club project. In 2010, I got the qualification to allow me to coach in a youth academy. After a long career as a player, I didn’t like my jobs in local administration, so I asked to be allowed to take the DEPF, the diploma to coach at any level in professional football. I was allowed and spent two years getting my diploma. Sometimes I feel people are preparing for the moment when they can say, I told you so. I
am not the only person around who has had critics, but I think that if I have a quality, it’s courage. I always answered the same questions,
in particular about how I would cope in the dressing-room, but I have never seen journalists ask male coaches in women’s football the same question. I just do what they do: I wait until everyone is ready, at a moment which we agree in advance. To be honest, people focus on the macho side but I have three men and a woman on my staff, and everyone is perfectly loyal. The same goes for my players. You have to be ambitious in life, but I’m not sure that’s the best way to describe me. I’m a hard worker, and as a woman I have to work even harder than the others. I spend 12 hours a day at the stadium. I take care of the video analysis, prepare and take training sessions, speak to everyone connected to the club.
I have always had natural authority. It was in my genes and I was raised that way. When I played for France I was always shouting at my
team-mates. You need that personality in the men’s game. You lose that authority if you show weakness in front of 28 people. My management
style always involves the players. Right now all I think about is being successful with Clermont. I have lots of work to do here. I’m not looking past that; it would be wrong to think about anything else.
FIFA MAGAZINE: Ben Lyttleton