After a journey of more than 4000 km from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, AS Îlenne Amateurs will play in the third round of the Coupe de France this Saturday. A competition accessible only to teams from the archipelago since 2018 and offering them the privilege of going to mainland France, to live for a few days in Clairefontaine, but also to face the former international of the Blues Jérémy Mathieu, who advanced to Luynes Sport (R2) with the historic goal of qualifying for a 4e round.
By Alexandre Le Bris
Located 30 kilometers east of Canada, the archipelago of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon is home to 6,000 souls, just below the city of Guingamp. If ice hockey is the king sport there, football will try to exist with its championship with three teams that will face each other eight times from May to September. But since 2018, a “big carrot” makes the saint-pierrais players run faster behind the football: the teams of the archipelago are included in the third round of the Coupe de France with a trip to mainland France at stake. This year, AS Îlienne Amateurs scored their ticket, eliminating AS Saint-Pierre on penalties in the first round, then AS Miquelon in the second. But behind this happiness of qualification hides a real journey to mobilize the delegation of 30 Saint-Pierrais.
“Me, I go maybe two or three times a year, in mainland France, but for some, it’s the first time! » Mehdi El Ghazouani, ASIA player
An ocean separates them from France, so of course, there is no question of going there on a sand yacht. “It is the Federation that handles all the logisticsswept the entry of Mehdi El Ghazouani, the captain of the team. There are several ways to get to France, I think we took too long. For the outward journey, we have three flights: from Saint-Pierre to Halifax (in Canada, province of Nova Scotia, editor’s note), from there we got to Montreal where we waited eight hours for our last plane to Paris for a total trip of just under 24 hours. For the return, we will leave Marseilles for Frankfurt then Toronto and finally Halifax where we will spend the night before making the final journey to reach our destination on Monday morning. » A wonderful trip for these French people from abroad: “I go maybe two to three times a year to mainland France, but for some it’s the first time! »
Noël Le Graët, Parc des Princes and Ligue 1 referees
A real one-week adventure where the whole team made themselves available. “Employers are good, but it’s more disturbing for young people who take a week off at the beginning of the school year. At worst, we apologize to Noël Le Graët. , mocking the side of the Yellows, who are in charge of creating the digital content of civilian life. The president of 3F, Saint-Pierrais of ASIA knows him well because he welcomed them to the Federation headquarters when they won their place in 3e turn in 2019. Rebelote this Wednesday where they each received a jersey from the France team. “We are just grateful to the Fed for what they have implemented for a small club like us, for a small archipelago.testifies to Mehdi. In 2019, we visited the Parc des Princes, we were also offered tickets to see the Blues against Andorra. »
The club led by Ludivine Quedinet, with about 300 members, met FC Lyon at the time, stayed nearby and was able to train at Tola Vologe, the former training center of Olympique Lyonnais. This time, Saint-Pierrais is even better, because they are based in CNF Clairefontaine. “We are in new buildings, in big rooms. The resort is very clean” , said the player. Within two weeks, they should have met Mbappé, Griezmann and others. But not enough to change their motivation: “We ate with a lot of people like the coaches who are going to graduate. All the referees in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are also there who are training, we talked a lot with them. » All without the risk of getting a card. Another part of the complex – and not the least – that the players of the Portuguese coach José Manuel Almeida can take advantage of: the synthetic pitches. Here at the top that not everyone knows they will face on Saturday at 6 pm in Luynes Sport, a Regional 2 club located in Bouches-du-Rhône.
“You, you come from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and you can face a man who made the historic quintuplet with Barça and plays for the French team. » Mehdi El Ghazouani
Archipel, but not Archiper
We almost forgot about it, but it was the main reason for this trip despite the smell of summer camp wafting through the air. “It’s hard to stay focused on the game because we see new things. The old people like me, we remind the young people that we still have something to play withwarns El Ghazouani, from the top of his 34 years. There may be a slight jump in training concentration, but the coach reframes us as well. » The icing on the cake, the training based in Aix-en-Provence has the ranking of former French international Jérémy Mathieu (5 selections). “The corners, maybe we will play on the ground. Another distraction. You, you come from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and you can face a man who made the historic quintuplet with Barça and plays for the French team. But hey, you shouldn’t praise it, but take it off the mark. »
This 3e return to Luynes promises to be complicated for the four leaf clover club. “We obviously expect to suffer. Two years ago, against FC Lyon who rose to R1 at the end of the season, we lost 5-1, but the addition could have been more salty.remembers the protector. Physically, we hit a wall against guys who had just come out of preparation. AS Saint-Pierroise took 8-0 from Vertou (N3) last season. We know that we also have to be very strict not to leave those places. In any case, we are committed to representing local football. » And that is almost the main thing, even if we still allow ourselves to dream. “Who knows what will happen? » says Mehdi El Ghazouani who clearly understands that this is the cup of all possibilities, and is not afraid of the idea of having to cross the sea again for the next round.
By Alexandre Le Bris
Interview by ALB.