In our French culture, is there a sport more imbued with masculinity than football? Yet it is for this discipline that Amandine Henry was passionately passionate about, at just five years old.
At a time when her friends were dressing their dolls, the young Lommoise, accustomed to the stadiums thanks to a father keen on matches, fought around the round ball in the amateur club of her northern town, in the middle of a pack of children males determined to stand up to him. Twenty-six years later, they hung up their boots. Amandine, she became captain of the French women’s football team.
” Like a boy “
“As a child, I always wanted to be with the boys, dress like them, play like them, she recalls. Fortunately, my father forced me to keep my hair long. Because around twelve or thirteen, the opposite phenomenon occurred. I then suffered from sarcasm that called into question my femininity. No, I was not a tomboy! “
At this statement, her companion, Farid, approves with a teasing pout and slips three words on the footballer’s tastes for shopping and the repeated changes in the decoration of their home. Not enough to offend Amandine Henry, whose smile is the best weapon, after her skillful midfield kick. Without resentment, she explains that the mockery she suffered in her early days helped forge her character as a winner.
Especially since it was encouraged: “My football educators have never criticized me for being a girl. On the contrary, I think they were proud to have one in their teams. But I clearly lacked a female role model. My only model was Zidane! “
Women’s football and professional football
Today, it is she who sets an example for new generations of aspiring footballers. So much so that the Mattel brand has created a Barbie doll in his effigy. The great breakthrough of the women’s football team at the 2019 World Cup helped raise awareness among the players.
“We were highly publicized. We felt that we represented women in sport and not just in football ”, remembers the captain. Before that, Amandine Henry had moved to the United States for a year. She discovered a different universe there. Because, across the Atlantic, “soccer” has been a feminine discipline par excellence since the 1970s. Becoming professional there is easier than with us.
In France, female footballers depend on the French Football Federation (FFF), which brings together amateurs, while the men’s team depends on the Professional Football League (FFF). “Even though we have been well recognized for five or six years, we are still considered semi-pros, sums up the sportswoman. Thanks to the will of the FFF and the
[[https://www.lesechos.fr/weekend/cinema-series/adolescentes-et-joueuses-des-filles-pleines-davenir-1240496]]in the capital of women’s football, a few of us can train and be paid like the pros. But the difference in status harms the image and means that the championships are not homogeneous. In other clubs, sportswomen work in parallel and struggle to raise their level of professionalization. “
The strength of exemplarity
However, the player does not sink into victimization. She tempers: “The men’s football industry brings in a lot more than women’s football. So I am not surprised by the wage differentials. We don’t fill stadiums like the guys. “ The atmosphere in the stands is also very different. Women’s matches attract a more family-oriented, more calm population, and do not end with broken noses.
So why not sometimes organize mixed matches? ” Impossible ! exclaims Amandine Henry. Muscle strength has the last word. Men’s matches are faster, stronger. “. But, in strategy, the women compete widely, and the captain notes that in the eyes of her teammates shine the same passion and the same rage when it is necessary to assault.
To motivate them, Amandine Henry does not rely on long locker room speeches; rather on the value of the example. She knows that any leader who sits takes the risk of having his team bow. Amandine Henry intends to continue to hammer the ground for a few more years.
At thirty-one, she also cherishes the idea of starting a family. ” Not immediately. But it’s important the family ”, she confides, motivated by the desire to return in turn the love and support that his has given him. In the stands, the Henry family team remain the most loyal group of supporters the player can count on.