Knowing how to handle both the ball and the verb has never been the forte of professional footballers in the eyes of common opinion. Examples of French mistakes made by players abound, so much so that it becomes difficult to put down these clichés.

As the Women’s Euro opened on July 6, several players from the D1 Arkema (the French Women’s Championship) took part in an eloquence contest organized by the French Football Federation and the Prometheus Education association. Objective: “To shake up the clichés, to bring out singular voices. »

The documentary Haut et forts follows the journey of five of them, shows that they carry within them undeniable convictions – and know how to express them. “For some, it really feels like they are village elected officials, others could be at the UN. If this sentence, pronounced by the journalist Hervé Mathoux during the deliberations of the jury, can make you smile – or cringe a few teeth… -, it sets the tone and the requirement of this competition of eloquence.

The competition takes place in two stages: an internal final, where the players compete within their own team, then a national final at the Olympia, in Paris. Touching stories, which plunge the viewer into the intimacy of these players.

Disyllabic injunctions

Siga Tandia, captain of ASJ Soyaux (Charente), is one of the candidates in the running. “At school I was ashamed to speak out, it was football that gave me my confidence back,” says the mother of two, who decided to speak out about homophobia – a topic she was told about. itself a victim. “As light as the word is to the thrower, it is heavy to the receiver,” she says. At the Reims stadium, Magou Doucouré talks about the racism she suffered: “Hey number three, take off your wig, go back to your country! “, she testifies during her plea.

The documentary takes us back three months before the final of the competition. Nothing seemed won: “I have too many ideas in my head and that’s why I say shit all the time”, admits Lisa Martinez, defender at ASJ Soyaux. The players take lessons to help them master their speech. “You are a role model, so you have the right to carry ideas, but it’s always better to carry them well,” one of the trainers told them. Several gesture and pronunciation exercises are offered and it is clear that it is far from easy.

The players gradually detach themselves from the disyllabic injunctions of the field – the “damn”, “go ahead”, “throw” – to give way to words imbued with common sense, convictions. And they manage, in their own way, to convince.

“Eloquence is what brought me to the Council of Europe, to the Legion of Honor. It’s not football, ”ex-footballer Nicole Abar confides to Selma Bacha, 21, right-back in the France team, elected this year best young player in the Champions League after the victory of her club, Olympique. Lyon, against Barcelona. A high and strong life lesson to pass the torch to future generations.