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Corinne Diacre: ‘People with nasty intentions say women coaching men is impossible’ (France)

La Creuse is a rural part of provincial France, right in the middle of the country, known for its farmland. In 1986 Corinne Diacre, a football-mad girl who lived there and bucked the trends of the time with her exceptional passion for the game, took the 400km journey to Paris to take part in a national ball-juggling competition.

The contest demanded each contestant attempted 300 taps with the right foot, 300 with the left, 300 with alternate feet and 100 headers. Diacre was 11 years old. She completed 300 with her right, 105 with her left, 300 alternate and 100 headers. She won the competition. But being a girl with an unusual level of determination, she vowed to return the following year to win without making a mistake. Aged 12 she took the journey again and her performance was flawless.

Diacre is softly spoken but an inner conviction comes across loud and clear. That focus has characterised a career in football that has broken barriers. As a player she won more than a century of caps, many as captain of France, and as the team’s manager she is geared towards producing the most competitive side she can mould in time for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Diacre is, though, best known for calmly climbing through a glass ceiling when she became head coach of Clermont Foot in Ligue 2. She has always tried to underplay the fuss that caused, even if she is not blind to why it was such a magnet for attention. “Anything new bothers people,” she shrugs. Her general philosophy is to keep quiet and show your competence first. Talking can come later. “I don’t need anyone else to put pressure on me. I put enough on myself.”



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