Looking towards the stands at Sydney Football Stadium for their World Cup debut, Hervé Renard and his players might spot an extravagant French supporter. A trained goalkeeper, Dominique Garnier transports his imposing carcass from stadium to stadium as well as dozens of badges brought from Seville to Doha via Johannesburg. At 61, he is about to take off for Australia where he will experience his first Women’s World Cup after ten men’s editions and five Euros.
If he is still in the Alps with his daughter for the moment, the Norman already knows Australia like the back of his hand. Arrived in the country in 2011 “ with [son] poor level of English and [son] rotten accent “, he had checked the date of the competition very early in his calendar. Since leaving his job as an educator in Évreux to move to Oceania, he has become a coach in one of the many academies in the country, has set up a Nike program to discover young players before being contacted by the staff of the women’s national team to look after the New South Wales Institute Football. « It looks like INF Clairefontaine, but it only exists for girls in Australia “, he explains. A majority of the players of the national team which will face the France team this Friday (11:30 a.m.) comes from this formation.
The Sydney Operant
Quickly falling in love with Australia and its culture, Dominique Garnier has insisted, since the birth of her granddaughter, on returning to France every school holiday period. Despite the estrangement from his family, he continues to flourish professionally. The expatriate likes to say that he has « learned the requirement » to the Australians and regrets the more important attention given to the physical rather than to the technique. He nevertheless notes a specificity specific to his adopted country: « From eight years old, they play girls against girls and this is a major difference with France. It is the number one sport for young Australian girls, while we only have boys two out of four terms. The position specialist is also keen to focus on improving the level of goalkeepers in women’s football.
Because of his work at the Football New South Wales Institute, the supporter will only be able to attend the World Cup matches to be held in Sydney. « Unfortunately, Iand don’t can’t afford to leavehe regrets. But I will try to do all those in Sydney, even during the final stage. In the group stage, the Australians will play one match and the French two. Five finals matches will follow in the country’s most populous city, including the final. Thanks to his knowledge within the respective teams, Dominique Garnier will still be able to be in the stands during the matches of Australia and France. If he has no problem choosing his camp for the men’s confrontations by encouraging the band of Didier Deschamps, his heart is, this time, divided between the Blue and the Matildas. « I know half of the players of the Australian team since they went through the Institute »he defends himself with a smile.
Indomitable since 1982
« I have two costumes: that of coach where I am serious and that of supporter with a little more nonsense. » In reality, these nonsense are innumerable, and Dominique Garnier never tires of telling them with mischief. His best memory is the most distant. In 1982, his first competition as a traveling supporter, he got on his Honda CB 900 F Bol d’Or, without a helmet, and toured Spain to follow the Blues. « It was downright dangerous. In the car of Parisian friends, we put the bags. Me, I left with the motorcycle taking someone behind me. » He nabs places as easily as at low cost and attends the semi-final of France against the FRG. On a shot too removed from Michel Platini, the carefree youngster recovers the ball, hides it under his jersey and taunts Harald Schumacher. A few minutes later, he will leave the Ramón-Sánchez-Pizjuán stadium with a heavy heart, but with the firm intention of setting out again on an adventure.
Four years after this first intense experience, the Évreux goalkeeper finds himself in the bus of the French team in Mexico and manages to scratch the jersey of his idol Joël Bats. This anecdote magnet nostalgically recounts these informal moments « where you could do everything without asking questions ». The one who saw all the World Cup finals until 2014 « without ticket » remembers that of 2006 when, after having climbed the gates to avoid security, he found himself in the tribune of the Italian supporters. « Can’t watch the game herehe laughs. I came out to go to the French camp, but a security guard caught me. So I had to queue with friends by passing the tickets from hand to hand. »
Football serves him above all as a pretext to meet the local populations, despite the differences seen over the years. At the last World Cup in Qatar, « Dom’ » pays 210 dollars a night to sleep in a container, nothing to cool him down. « Admittedly, the Emiratis live in another world, but I was able to be with dozens of immigrants. There, you see their real life. I could see things that I would never have imagined thanks to the world cups », recounts this enthusiast. To facilitate the exchange, he buys before each competition a hundred small Eiffel towers to distribute to the people he meets on the spot. « Supporterism is not only following the matches and saying“Go Blues”you have to represent your country well. » Despite his attachment to Australia, he intends to experience the matches in Sydney as he always has. When packing his suitcase to go back to Australia, Dominique Garnier obviously took care to take his fan gear, his many badges which make him proud and these miniature replicas of the Eiffel Tower to be generously given away throughout the Coupe du female world.
Ibrahim Cissoko, it comes from the street