The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset provides us with a fascinating insight into what a typical matchday is like at Olympique Lyonnais – Europe’s top women’s club – and the incredible access that supporters of the team get to some of the world’s greatest players.

The last game played at Groupama OL Training Center before France’s covid restrictions were changed was on October 16, 2020 against EA Guingamp. At the moment all games will now be behind closed doors.

As usual, this involved the club’s supporters arriving about an hour in advance to meet our OL (Olympique Lyonnais) Ang’Elles friends around their stand of goodies – amongst them the OL Ang’Elles scarf to show our colours.

OL Ang’Elles fan group was been created in 2011 by Isabelle Bernard and was the first women’s football fan group in France. It counted almost 300 members last season. This group supports the OL players in Lyon and all over Europe in the UEFA Champions League with their uninterrupted songs during the game. They have OL Ang’Elles and Olympique Lyonnais flags and streamers but also all the flags from the country of the foreign OL team players.

Above: Matchday atmosphere at the Groupama Training Centre for a OL Feminin game. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

From time to time LYOU, the Olympique Lyonnais mascot join us to support our players. There is also another smaller fan club “Kop Fenottes” which supports OL Women team.

Most of home games take place at the Groupama OL Training Center. Only the big games, like the one against Paris St. Germain or UEFA Champions League semi-finals take place in the Groupama Stadium; the big stadium where more than 25 000 spectators gathered for the last OL Feminin – PSG game in 2019.

Let’s try to know a little bit more the team that these fans support, and which dominates French and European football. Olympique Lyonnais Women section was created in 2004 by the acquisition of the FC Lyon Women team (1970-2004). Their Nickname is “Les Fenottes”.

OL’s women’s team has a lot of records and their honours is very impressive:

7 UEFA Champion League (2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)

14 consecutive French Championship titles from 2007 to 2020

9 French Cups (2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020)

1 French Champions’ Trophy: 2019

4 other titles in different International Competitions

Elected 6 times Best Team in the World by International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS): 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Above: Trophies won by OL Feminin during 2019/20 including French D1 and the UEFA Champions League. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

Main Current Staff consist of President: Jean-Michel Aulas, Manager: Olivier Blanc, Coach: Jean-Luc Vasseur, Assistant coach: Michel Sorin, Assistant coach: Camille Abily, Goalkeeper coach: Christophe Gardiè and Fitness Trainer: Romain Segui.

Before the game starts, teams are presented to the 1,500 spectators in the stands and everyone spells out loudly the name of the players when they appear on the big screen in one corner of the stadium.

Then the players arrive on the field for the team photo. During this Covid19 period it looks a little different. Here is the photo taken on October 16:

Above: OL Feminin line up for their last home game against EA Guingamp on 16th October. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

Jean-Luc Vasseur has a roster of 29 players to choose to make his team of the day. A list of players which includes stars such as Sarah Bouhaddi, Wendie Renard, Ellie Carpenter, Sakina Karchaoui, Amel Majri, Dzsenifer Marozsan, Eugenie Le Sommer, Ada Hegerberg, Nikita Parris and Delphine Cascarino.

OL fans know the players very well because, usually, OL Ang’Elles and other supporters can meet all the players during one open training session almost every week. I said usually because right now with the Covid19 restrictions, no training sessions are open to the public. The relationship between players and supporters are particularly good. During the training sessions, supporters are within one metre of the field and can admire their preferred players and take any photos they want. At the end of the training session, players come to meet the supporters, talk with them, sign photos and other items and take the usual selfies with the fans. OL Feminin players and fans are like a big family and it is great to live with them like that!

Above: OL Feminin players celebrate with their fans earlier this season. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

At the end of every game, players come to thank the supporters and especially the fan groups. The supporters then go home with a lot of memories of the game and our preferred players.

Latest news: OL Feminin won 5-0 away from home to third placed Montpellier last Saturday and are still unbeaten in D1 with seven consecutive wins.


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