Gambardella Cup. Yann Chevallier, from the grounds of AS Bayeux to the lawn of the Stade de France

Yann Chevallier joined SM Caen six years ago
Yann Chevallier joined SM Caen six years ago (©DR)

Coach of the goalkeepers at the training center of the SM Caen (Calvados)Yann Chevallier attended, from the weed bench, the qualification of Nicolas Seube’s U19s for the final of the Gambardella Cup, Sunday April 10, 2022 at the D’Ornano stadium, against Rennes (3-3, 5-3 pens). In two weeks, it will take place at the Stade de France. The reward of a lifetime devoted to football.

Yann, against Stade Rennais, you were on the bench for SM Caen U19s during the Coupe Gambardella semi-final. How did you experience this encounter?

Two brilliant hours, because the public answered present. Perhaps the players will not have another opportunity to relive such a beautiful communion with their supporters. It’s great that their career started this way! On the bench, we went through all the states. I live each of my matches intensely but, as educators, we had to remain calm. Including when our opponent equalized and then led on the scoreboard. Besides, we didn’t have time to gamberger since we very quickly came back to score. As since the beginning of this adventure, we have not prepared our match in any particular way compared to the others of the season. We haven’t, for example, specifically worked on penalties. To face them, you have to be brave and the players have been.

What do you think was the secret of this journey? What made this team so strong throughout the competition?

Playing on the lawn of the Stade de France will be a special moment for the group as well as for the staff which, for some of its members, comes from the amateur world. Besides being talented, our players are also good boys. The notion of group prevailed over everything else. They love the club and they are supervised by a staff, that of the entire training center, of very high quality. Nicholas [Seube, ndlr] is its figurehead. He knows how to take us, create a dynamic. It’s a legend ! I will celebrate my fiftieth birthday one month after this final and I have always started from the idea that one can learn at any age. Nothing is ever acquired. There is no certainty. What counts is listening, sharing and the richness of the exchanges.

How long have you been with the Stade Malherbe staff?

For six years now. First, as a volunteer. Then, as an employee. With Sebastian [Moncé, ndlr], we work in pairs. We are on the same wavelength. He devotes himself to the U19s, to the N2 and, me, to the goalkeepers of the women’s pole at eleven, to the U14s, to the U15s to the U17s, of which I attend all the matches. At first, I only participated in their warm-up. With all the other goalkeeper coaches at the club, from the football school to the professional team, we form a real quartet. I have been an educator for over thirty years. My work forced me to take a step back. So integrating the Stade Malherbe was a big surprise. The culmination of everything my coaches instilled in me, of all the moments of sharing experienced with my teammates. A reward for the investment and the sacrifices made. Football came before everything else and I’m lucky to have children, a companion who supports me and understands me. Nor is it an end in itself. I also know that all of this will eventually end. You will then have to bounce back.

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To see, one day, one of your trainees tread the lawn of the Stade Michel d’Ornano under the colors of SM Caen, wouldn’t that be your greatest reward?

That would be great ! Every day, we tell our players that if only one street separates the training center from the Stade Michel d’Ornano, it will be very difficult to cross. We are not champion breeders. Academic success is also an important dimension of our project. We also want to train men. When we happen to come across former trainees who, if they haven’t gone professional, are socially integrated or have started a family, it’s also a source of pride!

“You have to know how to love others! »

Yann Chevallier in the center with Destiné Jopanguy and Estébane Picot
Yann Chevallier in the center with Destiné Jopanguy and Estébane Picot

Do you feel that compared to when you were on the pitch, the role of goalkeepers has changed and evolved?

Being a goalkeeping coach requires proximity. There is a lot of dialogue. With the youngest, we focus more on technique and motor skills. As the competition comes, we focus on physical and athletic development. Our role has changed. I knew the time when you could grab the ball after a back pass from a teammate. Today, we ask goalkeepers to be gifted with the ball, to be the first receivers, but making saves is always the priority. I like this post. He assumed to be a leader and to have courage. I occupied it by pure coincidence. I was a field player until I was under fifteen and one day our goalkeeper was absent. I was offered to replace him. It is difficult to occupy because, if you obviously have to have technical and athletic qualities, you must above all know how to love others.

Who are the coaches, the leaders who have marked your life as a footballer?

Daniel [Danjou, ndlr]Jean Yves [Salaün, ndlr]Thierry [Mancel, ndlr]Cyril [Vicquelin, ndlr]Christian [Lecorvic, ndlr] … each coach is different but each had something that marked me. Their coaching qualities but, above all, their human qualities. It is also thanks to them that I have come to this. After qualifying, my first thought was for Patrick [Crevel, ndlr]. A friend but who was also a father to me. He was able to put me back on the right track. When he arrived at SL Bayeux, we were talented players. We didn’t always have the seriousness we needed, but he knew how to create something. We could have gone to war for him.

“Football is everything to me! »

For the Chevalliers, is football genetic? Is it a family passion?

At all. Apart, perhaps, from my grandfather who told me about the AS Bayeux matches when she was still playing at the Stade Baron Gérard. When my parents divorced, my father being very busy with his work, I was essentially brought up by my mother and by my maternal grandmother who was very important in my life. I discovered football thanks to my friends. I wanted to become an educator to pass on my passion. Until playing with players I had trained myself. I survived cancer. Health is always what matters most. My football life has been nothing but fun. Football is everything! It’s life because it’s sharing and emotions. I am a very sensitive person. When, in the crowd gathered in front of the stadium, I saw my son through the window of the bus, I burst into tears. In the locker room, we switch to something else but, once the match is over, we drop everything! The day when I will no longer experience all these emotions, it will be time to turn the page but, for now, I want to experience many more.

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