How Pauletta Foppa revolutionized the post of pivot at the Bleues

The next time your offspring tells you that he is not really a fan of the sport in which you have registered him, whether it is football, tennis or stick twirling, tell him to follow the example of Pauletta Foppa. At 12, the kid was frankly not enthusiastic about handball and, almost ten years later, the now pivot of The french teamwhich faces Germany at the Euro this Tuesday (8:30 p.m.), is olympic championwinner of Euro 2018, finalist of the Worlds (2021) and Euro 2020. At 21, therefore.

The click took place at the end of the second, when she entered the Pôle espoirs d’Orleans “Until then, she had trouble putting this level of requirement, we had to fight to make her understand that she could become one of the best pivots in the world, says Jonathan Mouton, head of the Women’s Hope Center Center- Loire valley. And then, a few setbacks led her to question herself. She realized that she was a good player and she said to herself that it was necessary to put the ingredients to get there. »

“She breaks the defenses in two”

Until becoming, today, one of the best players in the world. “In any case, it is the best pivot in the world, assures Manon Houette, Chambray player and consultant for BeIN Sports, which broadcasts the competition. It brings together all the qualities one could hope for in a pivot. To the point, even, of revolutionizing the position among women? Almost, according to Sladjana Pop-Lazic, a former pivot, who played with Foppa for four years at Brest.

In the collective imagination, the position of pivot is combat, blows… She can manage to change that, with her technical wealth. And, also with her head, because she manages to analyze the defenders’ game well. But hey, unfortunately there are still a lot of fights (laughs), especially for her, who finds herself facing two or three defenders. »

But, put him two, three girls in contact, the avengers or the army of Sauron on the overcoat, she will always come out of it with her hands in the air. The advantage of having benefited from special training which allows him to have a unique register: “Pauletta is a pivot who holds positions and breaks defenses in two, explains the trainer. We bet on learning to gain position, which was more complex than learning to slide, which comes with time and experience. Among the girls, a pivot who takes this gain in position as much, who is able to duel with his back to the goal, there are not many. »

Pauletta Foppa, two in one

For the handballix who follow us, a little technical explanation with Jonathan Mouton:

  • “Sliding is having a space behind the defense and rushing into it to offer a passing solution to your partners. »
  • “Gaining position means opening up spaces for her and her partners. It’s staying in front of the defenders when it’s around her, keeping space in front of her, which gives space to the attack and being in a situation of overstaffing. »

Where clubs and selections need two players in the position with different qualities, The french team has in Pauletta Foppa a specimen that has both sides. “It’s rare to see girls be like that,” continues Sladjana Pop-Lazic. For example, to slide, you have to have the feeling, know how the backs work, have a connection with the players. It’s not easy and it comes with experience. And she, at 21, has already acquired all that. »

For defenders, the problem with Pauletta is that she can do everything, sums up Manon Houette. You can’t prevent the blocks, otherwise she’ll slip, and vice versa, on the counter-attack she manages to anticipate, she knows how to defend in position 3, you can make her play for almost sixty minutes and she doesn’t get exhausted… Everything that’s very new in the hand. »

Illustration during game against Montenegro (27-19), Sunday, where the Blues wandered. Very present offensively (with a very good 6/7), with good counter-attacks, Pauletta Foppa also muzzled the main opposing danger, Jovanka Radicevic. Thanks to a technique that she is, there too, one of the only ones to master: “When she is in contact, technically, she is the only female defender capable of catching the opposite arm, develops Jonathan Mouton . The opponent will arrive with his left shoulder in front and Pauletta will manage to grab his right shoulder behind to bring it back towards her. »

And that’s just the beginning

Even if it’s not very patriotic, some advice for the next opponents of Les Bleues in order to reduce the effectiveness of Pauletta Foppa to a trickle: “When she’s in defense, she can be overwhelmed because she hasn’t yet the whole culture of the players, of the defense”, according to Mouton; “You have to take her away from the zone and push her to 9 meters, because, that way, when she recovers the ball, we have a little more time to close two or three on her and manage the problem”, d ‘after Houette.

But it’s really a story of saying, because the Foppa phenomenon could also change the tricolor game as a whole, according to the head of the Hopes Pole: “It already marks a generation. And where she can advance French handball is in the passing game [sur attaque placée, une faiblesse historique des Bleues malgré leurs nombreux titres, ndlr] For her to be able to express herself, she needs good players around her capable of giving her passes at the right time. “The title at the 2024 Olympics may be decided there.

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