“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Hello again from Yzeure! Thanks for taking the time to read this blog! It’s been really fun to see the responses, and it’s also nice to know that there are some people out there who actually enjoy reading it! I was a Sociology major at university (read: loooooots of essay writing), and this is the first time since my years at school that I have had the chance to put pen to paper consistently. It’s been so much fun to have a space to get my thoughts out of my head again, so I hope y’all continue to enjoy reading my ramblings!
Today I want to give my take on the French Division 1 as well as the current situation with my club in the standings. Now that I have been here a little over two months, I think I have wrapped my brain around the “who’s who” of the teams in France. It is a really interesting league; while there is a lot of variance within the specific teams, as a whole, it’s an extremely competitive.
Overall there are 12 teams in the French Division 1. Every season the top two finishers in the league table represent France in the UEFA Women’s Champions League. The three teams that finish at the bottom of the table in 10, 11, and 12th place are relegated into the second tier league for the next season.
Within these 12 teams, there is a wide range of club resources as well as talent. At the top of the league there is what people call “The Big Four” or the four professional teams in D1. These teams are Olympique Lyonnais, Paris Saint-Germain, Montpellier, and Juvisy. The vast majority of these players for these are professional: the only job they have is to the best footballers they can be. Every player from the French National Team represents one of these teams. These four teams also have a large contingent of foreign players who play for their respective countries at an international level. Of these four clubs, OL, PSG, and Montpellier are attached with successful men’s clubs and I would think there is some monetary support that ties into that relationship. In our first six games, we have already played PSG, Montpellier, and Juvisy, and it is easy to see their commitment to the goal of qualifying for Champions League.
As for the rest of the teams in the D1, there is an interesting mix. For these other teams, such as Yzeure, players have other jobs to support themselves or are students in school while also playing football. I have teammates who have a variety of jobs; it has been cool to see what everyone does while not at football! Each club’s resources determine if they can afford the costs associated with securing international players, and how many internationals they can carry on their roster. So far this season, every team we have played has had at least one player from a different country. Again, this shows the strength of the French league; players from all over the world want to be competing here.
Every year the final league standings are different; this speaks to the strength as the league as a whole. A team that has been newly promoted can finish in the top half of the league. And the other side of the coin isn’t surprising either: a team that had a strong finish one season has every chance of being relegated the next year. Every week brings a competitive match with the opportunity to surprise people with the results. There has been one game every weekend this season that has made my teammates and I shake our heads and say “Wow! Seriously!?”
So how does Yzeure fit into this picture? Well.
For those of you who have been following the French D1 season, I bet you are trying to make sense of our current position (for those of you who are unaware of the standings, let me save you some time: it isn’t pretty). We are six games into the season, and currently we sit 11th in the table, having earned one point so far.
Ouch. Not fun, let me tell you.
Definitely not the ideal way to start off a season. But, as in the way that so many things in life are, this situation is not completely black and white. It’s not simple enough to say that we are an untalented team destined for relegation. Nope, definitely not the case. There are areas of gray, decisions and happenings already done, that have contributed to the rough start our team has had.
In the offseason, there were many changes in Yzeure. New coaches. New rules. New players. New procedures. New systems. Even a new logo for the club! I only arrived here after these changes took place, so I won’t write about what actually went down, but this is my two cents about change in general. Change isn’t always easy. It can be difficult, it can be messy, and it can take time for changes to come to fruition. It’s inherently uncomfortable. Especially in a place where thing have been done the same way for a long time, change can be met with a lot of pushback and negativity.
As with anything, a team, a company, or any group of people, it takes time to for adjustments to set in and get used to changes. There are eight new players at Yzeure this season. Eight! When you think about that and realize there are eleven players on the field at once, eight is a HUGE number. And for many of us new players, this is our first season playing in D1.
It has taken time, and it hasn’t always been easy, but little by little we as a club have started to embrace these changes and make progress. The players who have been with the club for many years are starting to understand our new coach’s system, and the new players are getting a better handle on the level of play that comes with competing in this league. And slowly but surely, little by little, we are growing ensemble and beginning to trust each other on the field.
This past weekend we had a tough game against Juvisy. We were coming off a really difficult loss the previous week, and the spent the week of training focusing on playing together: being a unified front. Now I would love to say that we pulled off a miracle and prevailed with a victory, but that was not to be. We had some bad luck, a penalty kick (the fourth PK against us in five games, how about that statistic!?) called against us in the 13th minute as well as a goal scored against us when our entire team was calling for the referee to stop the game because of a serious injury to one of our defenders right in front of our goal. While it was a tough loss, it shows much improvement from the 6-1 beating we took from Juvisy in preseason only a few short weeks ago. I was really impressed with how far our team has come, and as we continue to work and train together, we will continue to improve as a unit.
I’m not going to lie: this will be a difficult season. Every game will be a challenge because of the competitive nature of this league. There is no such thing as a guaranteed victory; thinking that’s the case almost assures defeat. I, along with my teammates, must work day in and day out to improve so I can be the best player I can be for our club. And it will take time. But with time, work, dedication, and trust in our coach and system, together or ensemble anything is possible!
Peace, love, and to finding the beauty in change,
Professional goalkeeper for ASPTT Albi in the French Division 1. Previous player at Foot Féminin Yzeure, Forfar Farmington FC (Scotland SWPL) and the Houston Aces (USA WPSL). Inquisitive adventurer uniting my first great love, football, with my passion for exploring. Proud alumna of Rice University (Go Owls!)