I TURNED and skied a shot high over the bar – I was finally playing football in France and loving every minute of it.
So I ran off behind the goal to collect the ball and came back on to the floodlit pitch to practice some pass and move exercises.
One of the first things I did when I arrived in Villefranche du Périgord was to ask about playing for a local football team, I knew it would be a great way to meet people.
And on Friday night I joined the team from St Cernin de L’Herm for a training session that turned into a great night to remember.
In my keenness to start playing I turned up too early and was met by a dark field and a couple of muddy lanes which I almost got stuck on.
However, I waited around for ten minutes and soon someone turned up and switched the floodlights on and then the players began to arrive.
I quickly got changed and ten of us set off on a few laps of the pitch, there were a couple of jokes and laughs, and of course the obligatory handshake for everyone.
Jogging past the changing rooms a few more players joined us on the warm up and as we took a break before some exercises we numbered 14.
We did some dribbling practice around cones finishing with a cross into the box for a team-mate to strike on the volley – it didn’t work like that every time.
Then it was three-on-one triangles, one touch passing and turn and shoot exercises.
We were quite an international collection with myself, a Moroccan striker, a Portuguese mid-fielder and the goalkeeper said he had some Belgian ancestors.
The training was done in a great atmosphere with plenty of banter, before we played a regular game for the last half an hour.
After getting changed I was asked if I wanted to join the players for a bite to eat. How could I refuse?
So I was sat at the head of the table, christened Michael Owen, and soon enjoying soup, a glass of wine, red cabbage, eggs and cauliflower, beans, sausage, cheese, a slice of cake and a dash of distilled prune firewater.
Chatting to the captain he said that the club had been going for about 25 years as another ladle of beans was piled onto my plate.
Another player, Laurent, said he was a teacher in the village and that it would be a great idea for me to do an article about the school, and the problems they face. That’s a definite.
The table went quiet when I was asked how different the club was compared to one in England.
In my fractured French I said that the main difference was the facilities, and how playing for St Cernin would be a great experience and that I’d even enjoyed the exercise.
It was close on two in the morning by the time we had finished; the meal had taken longer than the training, how French is that?
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Michael Owen, he shoots over the bar as well! Was the training more skill based then English teams.
Posted by: Andy Marshall | 28 November 2003 at 16:15