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How did the women’s team go from D2 to the Champions League in five years?

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It was September 9, 2015. That day, the Girondins’ women’s section played the first official match in its history thanks to its merger with Etoile Sportive Blanquefortaise a few weeks earlier. The club from the suburbs of Bordeaux has been evolving for seven years in D2. The project led by two women, Liliane Delluc [la présidente du club de Blanquefort] and Françoise Brunet [ancienne dirigeante du club bordelais], finally saw the light of day with the endorsement of the great manitou, Jean-Louis Triaud. From the first season, this team detonates! With the duo Anthony Vigneron-Théodore Genoux at its head (the first having joined the adventure for lack of a diploma from the second), she won her accession to D1 after an almost perfect exercise (one defeat in 22 games). A first step.

To develop this section, the Navy and White quickly called on the experienced Jérôme Dauba. “We were a 100% amateur team,” he explains, “the girls came to train after school or work, we didn’t even train at Haillan but at Blanquefort under very complicated conditions. Myself and the staff were not full time. At that time, the club devoted a drop of water to women, a budget of 300,000 euros (out of a budget of 55 million euros). “Initially, the top priority was to structure the section and train educators. Triaud had just told me: “Well, if you keep the team in addition, it will be a bonus,” “remembers the former Girondines coach with a smile.

Ramé-Dauba, the builders

Behind the scenes, the architect of this section, Ulrich Ramé, is struggling. Its lobbying with JLT ended up paying off for the first time with the recruitment of three players at mid-season (Karchouni, Chatelin and Laurent) to allow the club to escape on the last day against PSG. Behind, it will be quite simply the beginning of a meteoric rise until this dam of the Champions League this Wednesday against the Germans of Wolfsburg. Over the seasons, Jérôme Dauba’s Bordelaises progress on the field, figuratively (10th, 7th and 4th) as literally (they finally train in Haillan but still have to share the facilities with the training center).

“We had to build everything from A to Z. We had to fight every day and optimize the means we had. But the girls were remarkable, irreproachable, exemplary… Real enthusiasts ”, recalls Jérôme Dauba, who is now responsible for the Women’s Hope pole in Bordeaux. For Dauba, the “real rocker” is in 2018-2019. After attracting the Irish international Niamh Fahey the previous season, the Girondines have a high-end transfer window with the French internationals Claire Lavogez and Viviane Asseyi or even Vanessa Gilles, Olympic champion a few weeks ago with Canada in Tokyo. The budget increases to 800,000 euros, it will be doubled a year later by the American owners.

The section will take on a new dimension with the arrival of Pedro Martinez Losa during the 2019-2020 season. The former Arsenal coach takes the Bordeaux women to the podium in the D1. Ulrich Ramé, him, continues his work of undermining in submarine. He notably unearths a UFO, Kadija Shaw. The Jamaican walks the championship for two years (35 goals and 11 assists in 39 games) before joining Manchester City this summer. Charlotte Bilbaut, new captain of the French team arrives in turn, then Eve Périsset from PSG. A sign that Bordeaux is more and more attractive to female players.

Apart from the two sacred monsters of the D1, Lyon and Paris, nothing has stood up to the Girondines since 2015. And it’s a whole club that follows the movement: the budget has multiplied by 10 in five years (3 million euros this season), the medical unit is now composed of a doctor, three physiotherapists and an osteopath while in 2016, there was only one part-time physiotherapist. It’s day and night. “Frankly, we didn’t think it would go so quickly,” admits Jérôme Dauba.

A real enthusiasm around this team

Beyond the fields, this meteoric rise has aroused real enthusiasm for several seasons. This Wednesday evening, the Girondines will for example be supported by the Ultramarines, the largest group of Bordeaux supporters. “I remember that at the very beginning, we were only a few curious, we did not necessarily know the players to be frank, remembers Thibaud, one of the most fervent supporters of this team. Now there is a real audience of connoisseurs with whom we can talk about tactics and even about the characteristics of each player. »All this in front of an increasingly large audience. The Bordelaises, who still have to go into exile in Libourne or Bouscat to play, have gone from an average 700 spectators (half of whom are non-paying) to several thousand during the gala matches against Lyon and PSG in recent seasons.

On social networks (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), the club has tripled its number of followers since 2017 (more than 60,000) or nearly 15% for the entire club. “I think there has also been a compensatory effect vis-à-vis the boys who have been having a series of catastrophic seasons lately. The girls have never cheated, they wet the jersey in every match. They have also managed to keep a real identity of proximity and simplicity despite their growing status, ”says Thibaud, who has created a Twitter account. (ScapGirondines) specially dedicated to the female section. Now the hardest part is surely starting for the Girondines, namely to stay at the top level behind OL and PSG with some questions about the will of the new owner, Gérard Lopez. Will he always support this women’s section as much? “We must not spoil everything,” warns the one who will make 900 kilometers round trip on Wednesday to see this historic match.

Patrice Lair, the new coach of the Girondins women’s team. – Daniel Vaquero / SIPA

For now, it is still too early to know. One thing is certain: after the surprise departure of Pedro Martinez Losa this summer, the club reacted very quickly by appointing Patrice Lair. The French technician, double winner of the Champions League with Lyon and passed by PSG, will bring all his experience and lived to this team. Starting with this Wednesday (7 p.m.) against Wolfsburg.



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