Dimitri, expatriate supporter in Canada: « A monument that does not look at all like what I have known »

Second episode of the series launched by La Maison Jaune on expatriate FC Nantes supporters. After Romania, head to the other side of the globe, to Canada, to meet Dimitri, 34, a pediatric nurse, who has lived in Quebec for almost ten years. He tells us about his memories, the football culture in his new country and his outlook on the club today.

What do you do for a living ?

I am a pediatric nurse. I came to Canada 9 years ago. I’m starting to get settled very well in Montreal, Quebec. So it’s been 9 years that I continue to follow the news of the Yellows from a distance.

Why did you go to Canada?

I am from Nantes, I grew up and I did my nursing school in Nantes. I wanted to discover something else. It was super easy at the time to go to Quebec, they were looking for nurses here. At first I came for one or two years. Now, I’ve been here for 9 years, with no intention of returning. I met my wife here with whom I have a child. My life is here, and France is for the holidays.

The last time I came back was two years ago, in December, and I was able to go to La Beaujoire to see Nantes-Angers. The ten years that I went to La Beaujoire, I don’t think he had as much as that night. We were soaked, and we lost 2-1 with five minutes remaining.

When you come back to France, as soon as you can, do you go to La Beaujoire?

I like going there, yes. After that, it has to fall when there is a match. It is enough that the match is away or during the summer, it is more complicated … But I have had the opportunity to see three, four matches since I left.

How is your job going at the moment?

I’m fine, because I work in pediatrics. The Covid affects children less. We discover that they have the Covid when they have their arm broken and they are tested. It hasn’t changed much, other than the fact that we have to take great precautions. In Quebec, they were a little more rigorous than in France. We were confined to our homes for a long time without having the right to invite someone. Nightclubs are not yet reopened, there are still quite a few small constraints in everyday life.

« I fell in love with this city »

How do you feel in Canada?

I feel great in Montreal. I would really make a distinction between this city and the rest of Canada. It is a particular city, French-speaking, multi-cultural, open-minded, with a lot of music and art festivals. I fell in love with this city, so I can’t see myself leaving here.

How is the football culture here?

It has nothing to do with France. We have to follow what was the Montreal Impact and has now become the Montreal football club. There is not a great football culture. Immigrants bring it, many South Americans, French. The great football talks I can have are with immigrants. Even the comments on television are complicated. They don’t have the same history, not the same past, but it is developing a lot.

Are we talking about soccer?

Yes, because the football there is Canadian football, a derivative of American football.

Do you ever go to see matches there?

I was going to see a few. Not too much, because the level is not top. This year, they really changed their policy, focused on youth development. Olivier Renard has been working in Montreal for two years. Before, it was a lot of individuality, but very little background. It plays well, but the numbers are unbalanced. In any case, there are fewer and fewer old stars.

Is the national sport hockey?

Yes. They are passionate about hockey here. But at the youth level, soccer is played more than hockey, because it costs less and you just need a pair of crampons. Hockey, you have to buy the skates, the equipment, rent the heated rooms, the ice … it’s been between three and five years since it passed.

« Difficult to be a Nantes supporter »

To come back to FC Nantes news, you have been a subscriber to the Tribune Loire for ten years …

It was from 1996 to 2006. I have known a bit of everything. The years post-1995, it was the beautiful game, the Champions League, then the title of 2001 … and after the much more difficult years with Ligue 2 and the current situation.

Do you miss Beaujoire?

It’s certain. The atmosphere, the emotions are lacking. I follow the games from a distance, I can always find a way to see the games here, but it’s not the same. And then, to find supporters of FC Nantes in 2021 on the other side of the world, there are not many either. It is this group atmosphere, this sharing of emotions that is lacking. After that, we haven’t experienced great sporting emotions in Nantes for a long time. The last time, it was for the maintenance last year against Toulouse. It’s been a long time. And again, it was different than 10 years ago.

You didn’t want Nantes to come down, like some people?

I have a lot less passion, but I didn’t especially want them to go down, because you know when you go down, but never when you go up. But, at the same time, it wasn’t the end of the world like it would have been before. The club that is currently playing, I do not recognize myself any more, if we remove the colors and the Beaujoire. The players change a lot, the decisions made by President Kita have nothing to do with what I have known. It’s difficult to be a Nantes supporter at the moment, you have to want it.

How do you see the current situation of the club, from a distance?

With great sadness. It is a monument of French football that does not look at all like what I have known. Young people are not guarded, we work with a single agent, who is a little more than an agent … It is above all sadness. We feel that the president is still closer to the end than the beginning. So we just wait for the day when we move on.

How do you follow the news of FC Nantes?

Twitter is where I have the most live information. I will take turns from time to time on the FC Nantes forum, without necessarily posting, but to find this spirit of community. I watch the matches, I also talk about it with my family. My brother, who lives in Paris, is also a great supporter of Nantes. My friends also who are in France.

You speak of sadness, but there is also the Collective Nantais which gives a little hope …

They have activated all the right levers: the local side, the training side, taking back a former glory of the team like Mickaël Landreau, communication … I hope that a buyer will arrive and use their work. I have the impression that it was a bit their message at the time of their press conference, that they did not yet have the necessary funds to run a Ligue 1 club. If they can facilitate the arrival from another actor … it gave back the star of the eyes to many Nantes supporters.

« The title of 2001, I was on a crutch, but I ran on the lawn »

Do you manage to watch FC Nantes matches live, despite the time difference?

Yes (laughs). I make the effort to get up in the morning at 7am to see Nantes-Brest or Metz-Nantes. I wonder why I do it sometimes, but I do it anyway. A match at 3 p.m. in France will take place at 9 a.m. in Canada, as there is a 6 hour difference. It is not easy to see the matches, because they are not all broadcast by BeIN which has the rights in Canada. I go through streamings, although I will be happy to pay to see the matches in clear and clear.

Do you have the same passion, exactly?

I keep this desire to see the matches because I want to know what I’m talking about when I talk about FC Nantes. I am also a football fan, I watch a lot of games on TV. My passion has changed in the sense that, if you lose, it doesn’t matter much to me. I’m happy if we win, but it’s not the end of the world if we lose, because it’s no longer my FC Nantes. We experience fewer emotions. Headlines are not necessarily the best emotions. Personally, when we run away on the last day on a Diallo header, it’s the most memory I have in Nantes. Negative emotions are important too, but they are no longer there. I was also in the Cup final with the penalty kick from Mickaël Landreau. It’s a big negative emotion but it remains etched in my memory.

What are your other beautiful memories?

The 2001 title, I was injured, on a crutch, but I ran on the lawn. The same goes for the statue at Place Royale. The story of my injury is that I had played amateur football. I had a volley on a cross, and a defender had countered me with his hip. My knee had hit his hip quite hard, I had made a pretty huge bruise with a pocket of blood inside. I had a splint all over my leg.

The Coupe de France also in 1999 and 2000 are great memories. Afterwards, we crossed the desert. The comebacks in Ligue 1 were still great emotions. Since then, apart from two cup semi-finals, we haven’t played anything in the league. I envy clubs like Strasbourg or Rennes nowadays.

What do you think of the start of the season?

I am very surprised by Kombaouré. This is the second season, after Conçeiçao, where we have an attacking game. How long has it been? Even if it’s a counterattack, a fast transition game, I am enjoying watching the matches again. I say to my friends: “I saw Nantes-Brest, it was cool, I saw football! « . Before, you didn’t play to lose. It was tiring and long.

In terms of the game, it will be better than last season with the coach’s waltz. I hope that Kombouaré will stay, even if I had big doubts at the start. He’s doing a good job. In terms of the standings, it will be as usual. We will hope to play something until December, January. And we will realize that we are not going to play anything. I think we have the level to finish in 12th place. But we will not play Europe. For the maintenance, I am confident, with the stability of the coach already, the defensive solidity found.

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