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Yzeure, this small cosmopolitan club which challenges PSG in the Coupe de France

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On May 15, 2022 in Dijon, the Women’s Football Yzeure Allier Auvergne (FFYAA), second division club (D2), will challenge Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in the final of the Coupe de France. The FFYA, D2’s smaller budget, got there thanks to a close-knit club and a cosmopolitan group. Reportage.

From our special correspondent in Yzeure,

If I leave not to win, I prefer to stay at home. When I leave, it’s to win. The Senegalese Seynabou Mbengue, star striker of Women’s Football Yzeure Allier Auvergne (FFYAA), announces the color, a few weeks before the final of the Coupe de France, scheduled for May 15, 2022 in Dijon. The one who qualified the FFYAA, thanks to a double in the semi-final against FC Nantes (2-1), will not have complexes against the prestigious Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), its superstars and its millions of euros. Her Togolese teammate, Mafille Woedikou, is on the same wavelength. ” PSG is a big structure. It is true that we do not have their financial means. But we’re not going to let it go “says the 27-year-old striker.

However, there is more than a sporting and financial class difference between PSG and this second division (D2) formation which has been aiming for a rise in the elite since 2014. We remain confidenthowever assures the Moroccan Imène El Ghazouani, number 10 of the club. If we hadn’t been, I don’t think we would be here. We are not going to go backwards. We have nothing to lose. We have the smallest budget in D2 “.

Relive the semi-final of the Coupe de France 2022, won by Yzeure against Nantes.


Small budget and teammates at McDo

Welcome to Yzeure, a town of 12,000 inhabitants located in the very center of France, whose women’s football club has very high ambitions despite a derisory budget (270,000 euros). An apparent paradox to which coach Ophélie Meilleroux, former emblematic defender of the FFYAA and the France team, is accustomed. ” We are an amateur club. No one was expecting us in the final. We are looked at differently and that is very good. Because it highlights all the work that the club and the players have done on a daily basisshe points out. We know we work hard, every day. The girls have their working days. Then, they come in the evening to train, between an hour and a half to two hours, whether it’s -5 degrees or -10, whether it’s snowing, whether it’s windy “.

Almost all the members also have a job, on the side, like Seynabou Mbengue. ” We would prefer to be professional, but the club does not have the means. I’d rather not stay home to sleep. So I work next door at McDonald’s “, underlines the Lioness. The captain, Christine Manieshe is a facilitator in schools and coordinator of the Yzeure football school.

But no player seems to complain about this situation, listening to the club’s management. Even the many foreigners in the workforce, who sometimes come from very far away to taste the high level in France, like the Haitian Chelsea Surpris, born in Texas. ” It’s something I’ve always wanted : face the best clubs in France, see the real faces of Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Sakina Karchaoui. It’s an amazing experience and it means a lot to my career to have this opportunity. », Launches the 25-year-old side, about her future Parisian opponents. The same goes for Canadian Taylor Beitz, impatient to challenge her compatriots, Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema. ” I’m really looking forward to playing this match because the Parisiennes are going to get a lot of goalscoring opportunities. », Enthuses the goalkeeper.

A cosmopolitan workforce

Cameroon, Canada, Haiti, Israel, Morocco, Portugal, Senegal, Togo… The countries represented are numerous within the workforce of Yzeure. A choice made by Ophélie Meilleroux: “ French players are more and more expensive. More and more often they have agents. They require fairly high financial conditions. However, for us, it is true that our financial means are quite limited. »

It is in this same logic that several African internationals have joined Yzeure, like the Cameroonian Dolores Tsadjia. ” When I arrived, I thought there was only one other African: my compatriot Christine Manie. And when I landed, I realized that the whole team was African! laughs the defender. It helped me a lot in terms of integration. I quickly felt good. »

Bringing together so many nationalities is not always easy, however, according to Ophélie Meilleroux. ” It’s not necessarily obvious every day because we have a whole different mentalityshe slips. But I think the group has managed to build on this wealth. The players draw on their differences to bring out the best on the pitch “. And foreign women are just as aware of what is at stake for the region. ” You see posters for the game everywheresmiles Taylor Beitz. When we walk in town, people greet us and recognize our faces. It’s very good for women’s football and for the small club of Yzeure “.

A report from France 3 Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes on Yzeure


Interview by Hugo Moissonnier and David Kalfa

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