[Cet article est une traduction en anglais de l’interview postée il y a quelques jours].
The team of France Plumfoot is growing each year a bit more. A lot of active recruits joined the adventure this year, bringing new ideas and proposals. Among them are Thomas Carré and Etienne Sèche, who decided to conduct several interviews about the French Open. As it will be clear from the first translated interview below, their approach is often cheeky but quite refreshing as it gives to our community a newcomer’s perspective. More to come in the next weeks !
In about a month, the 10th French Open will take place in Eaubonne, a city located 20 minutes from Paris. This anniversary will without a doubt be a landmark in the history of Shuttlecock. In order to prepare it, France Plumfoot, the association in charge of shuttlecock in France, has realized an interview of its President Ayman Moussa.
To begin with, as this is an anniversary of the French Open, could you tell us about the history of this competition?
“First, the Open is THE international competition that takes place in France every year. The first Open was organized in 2008. About 40 players had come then, among which a few German and Hungarian players.
Since then, the French Open has grown ! My first Open was that of 2011 which took place in Canteleu. And in 2012 the Chinese sent a team to France for the first time [the journalists must hereby underline there is no proof that the Chinese only came because Ayman had started to play…]. It is a first sign that the competition was gaining recognition. From then on, more and more teams started to come and today we organize an Open with more than 100 players coming from Europe and Asia.”
What is it that makes the French Open special among other competitions in the world?
“I would say that the Open is appreciated for its format. To design it, France Plumfoot got inspired by the Davis Cup, in Tennis. Indeed, the French Open is the only “Open-kind” of competition that is played in all three Shuttlecock formats: single, double and triple. Every year the foreigners we welcome tell us it really is a pleasure for them to have to vary from one format to the other, as it is challenging to change its way of playing from one game to the other.
Moreover, the purpose is to play as much as possible: for this reason, the teams are not eliminated if they lose. They are allowed to continue playing against other teams so that in the end, all of them are ranked – which is one of the differences between the French and the Hungarian Open for instance. Therefore this competition is also designed for the beginners. But in terms of organization, this implies quite complex logistics.”
Then let us talk about logistics! How is the event’s organization going?
“I believe we are doing well! All the long term issues have been dealt with: we found a date, we have chosen an amazing venue, we have the accommodation for the players and the foreigners told us if they were coming. To be honest we started planning this event last summer.
Today some details remain. Some are related to the event in itself, such as the preparation of the playing courts, the preparation of the food, or taking pictures or videos that we will share afterwards. Some are related to the foreign players: how to welcome them, how to communicate with them before and after the event… Well, an interview in English is already something!
Anyways we are going to ask many French players to help us with the organization of the event. We are under pressure, considering how well the French players are taken care of when they travel!”
On a more personal level, what are the most striking memories you have from the Opens you have been to?
[Ayman hesitates dreamily, wondering if he’ll talk about how he lost to the Chinese, was beaten by the Germans, had to give up in front of the Vietnamese, or surrendered to the Hungarians]. “Well I would say my first Open really was remarkable. It was the first time I realized what shuttlecock really was. First, even the French players I admired didn’t make it to the end of the tournament. I saw various styles of playing: the Hungarians who are quite massive can beat skinny and fast players, thanks to their technique or their suppleness. The Germans have more of an aggressive style, they shout a lot! The Finnish are all more than 40 but remain calm at all times, with very smooth moves. The first Chinese team I saw was at the German Open and I was struck: they were smashing while serving, and sometimes the shuttlecock was out of the boundaries on the other side of the court.”
So against such teams, is there room for the French shuttlecock players?
“We are getting better and better. We got 1 silver and 1 bronze medals at the last European Championship. Our elite can perform well, especially thanks to Anthony. Our problem is the quantity of good players available. Also, we don’t have enough young players. In Paris we recruit on average at age 20 to 25 but it’s already too late to be excellent” [the journalists, who just started shuttlecock at age 23 and 24, laugh, thinking this is a joke].
You talked about the different “styles” of each country, but how would you describe the French style?
“In France we have many influences, but no general “style” I would say. Trang has her own style as she was trained in Vietnam. Anthony is a very creative player. That you do not see very much at a high level: for instance, the Vietnamese players are so precise and strong they do not need creativity. They don’t need imagination to get out of trouble, as there never is any trouble for them!”
So how will France perform at the Open?
“I am rather confident. The players in our team n°1 know each other. If Vietnamese players confirm their venue, we can tell Gold is already in their hands. Then, we have 2 big Hungarian teams, 2 big German teams, the players from Hong Kong… I would say we will be 7th – if less, we will open a bottle of champagne!”
Any last words for the foreigners who will be coming to the Open ?
First, thank you for coming! I am very happy to welcome all of you and give back a little bit of what I had when coming to your countries. At France Plumfoot we are all doing our best for this event to be remembered.
Dear shuttlecock players from all over the world, get ready: the French Open is coming ! We assure you it will be remembered not only as a great competition, but also as an occasion to further discover people from other cultures sharing the same passion: shuttlecock !