the cruel reality of the football world on France 3 Rhône-Alpes

Considered one of the best
de l’Hexagone, the training center
AS Saint-Étienne welcomes 80 teenagers aged 14 to 19 recruited from all over France each season. Raphael Riviere, Alexandre Donot

CRITICISM – In immersion at the ASSE training center, one of the best in France, Alexandre Donot and Raphaël Rivière filmed the daily life of young people in Saint-Étienne for a year. The centera documentary not to be missed this Thursday, November 24 at 11 p.m. on France 3 Rhône-Alpes, as part of the magazineFrance in Real Life».

A pioneer in the field of training thanks to the visionary Pierre Garonnaire, the Saint-Étienne Sports Association (ASSE) saw the emergence of professional players trained internally from the 1970s. Dominique Rocheteau, Dominique Bathenay and Laurent Roussey were among the first nuggets to write the modern history of the Greens.

Collective challenge

The film by Alexandre Donot and Raphaël Rivière, broadcast this evening on France 3 Rhône-Alpes*, shows the current reality of the Robert-Herbin center, so named in tribute to one of the club’s outstanding figures, player then coach of a golden era which saw the Stéphanois multiply the titles of champions of France and play in the final of the Cup of champion clubs in 1976 against Bayern Munich (0-1) in Glasgow. Today, the AS Saint-Étienne training center is considered one of the best in France. Each season, it welcomes 80 teenagers aged 14 to 19 recruited from all over France to learn the profession of footballer.

Closed universe

For 52 minutes, the documentary, titled Le Centre, plunges into a system where selection is applied without mercy. “Many of you will not sign a professional contract“, launch the supervisors from the first training. “The rule at AS Saint-Étienne is formalityimmediately explains coach Kévin De Jésus. As long as the coach does not authorize you to use the tu way, you will use it.” Immersed in this closed universe, the camera zooms in uncompromisingly on a promotion in which performance and respect become key words.

Paradox: everyone must understand that their destiny depends on their neighbour. “Growing up, training, continuing to progress, is not an individual project. It’s a collective challenge“, note the staff, always attentive to the fragile balance of the team. In terms of human relations, efficiency and profitability are in contradiction with the educational mission of coaches. The Center tells a humanist, unifying and collective story, without folklore. “The problem with you is that you take the pressure!”, reproaches the coach to a young person. Before letting go:Come on, come for a hug.”

The real life

If Saint-Étienne is regularly cited for its champions of yesterday, these are above all abstract figures and black and white photos on the walls of the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium for residents. Their daily life takes place in contact with coaches, of course, but also supervisors, cooks, cleaning staff and gardeners. Far from the clichés that nourish the fantasies linked to professional football, Le Center is part of real life. Passionate, but cruel.

*Rebroadcast of the documentary on Public Sénat, from December 4.

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