Monday 19 February 2018, 21:36

Chavas, France’s precious commodity

Mylene Chavas of France pictured with the Adidas Golden Glove
  • Mylene Chavas looks set to be hosts France's goalkeeper at the upcoming FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup

  • She appeared at the last edition, Papua New Guinea 2016, and was even awarded the adidas Golden Glove

  • The 20-year-old outlines her hopes for France 2018... and France 2019!

France owed their runners-up spot at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016 in large part to the sparkling performances of Mylene Chavas between the posts. The Saint-Etienne goalkeeper possesses nerves of steel and was rewarded for her sterling efforts with the adidas Golden Glove as the tournament’s outstanding custodian.

A golden talent, Chavas is a precious commodity who is aiming to shine once more at her second FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup later this year, to be held on home soil. She spoke to about her objectives at France 2018 and her memories of Papua New Guinea 2016.

Silver medal Papua New Guinea 2016 was Chavas’ breakthrough tournament. Despite being two years younger than the rest of Gilles Eyquem’s squad, she nevertheless got the nod for goalkeeping duties.

“She’s a very good goalkeeper. She’s got the lot,” Eyquem told . “It’s a very demanding position and the way she’s mastered it is very important. She’s very good in the air but also when she stays on her line.”

With Chavas pointing the way, France reached the final. “I’ve got some great memories. It was an incredible experience,” Chavas said. “The defeat in the final against Korea DPR left a bitter taste, but aside from that it was an amazing time for me. The atmosphere was great and it was a whole new experience.”

Golden Glove While a silver medallist, Chavas received a golden consolation prize on being named the tournament’s outstanding goalkeeper. It was fully deserved given her outstanding displays throughout the tournament and despite the three goals she conceded in the final.

“Even though it’s an individual award, it shows that she has the talent and that lots of opportunities can open up for her. She’s not even 19 yet,” said France’s goalkeeping coach Sandrine Roux, in the wake of that final. “The award came as no consolation to me at the time,” said Chavas two years later. “But looking back it makes me happy and proud. I now realise how valuable it is.”

Iron will The youngest member of the France squad at Papua New Guinea 2016, Chavas will be the oldest when she steps out at this year's U-20 Women’s World Cup. The Saint-Etienne keeper wants to make the most of her second chance at the tournament: “The competition was new to me two years ago, but here I can bring my experience to bear. It’s going to be a different role for me and the competition will be different too. What matters to me is that the coach puts his faith in me, just like last time.”

She added: “It’s going to be a great event, both for the players and the country as a whole. The fact that we’re hosting the competition will crank up the pressure on us. It’s exciting to be representing the host country but there’s going to be a lot of expectation too. We hope to be able to live up to it. We’ll give it our all and try to climb to the top of the podium this time.”

Chavas' highlights at Papua New Guinea 2016:

- Your happiest memory? The match against Papua New Guinea. - Your best team-mate? Jade Lebastard, my understudy. We roomed together and we get along really well. - Your best opponent? Mallory Pugh. We came up against her in our first match. I was dreading it before the game, and I was right to feel that way because she made life so hard for me. - Your best opposing team? Japan made the biggest impact on me. - Your best save? I remember a save [against Germany]. It was a one-on-one and I kept the ball out with my face!

Nerves of steel Chavas will be Les Bleuettes’ biggest asset at France 2018. Though her supporters will be expecting much of her, there will be no little pressure on opposing strikers to get the better of her. “It’s down to me to keep my standards up and put in the performances that are needed. Big things are expected of me and I’ll have plenty to prove, but the forwards I’ll be up against are also going to have extra pressure on them. It works both ways.”

Mentally strong and a formidable presence between the posts, the keeper also knows how to draw on the motivation required to raise her game. “It’s a huge honour to be part of the France team. It really drives me forward and it’s a big part of me,” said Chavas, whose Twitter profile photo is a France team snap.

Chavas is not only motivated; she is also ambitious: “I’ve got the 2019 Women’s World Cup in the back of my mind, and the only way I’m going to make that happen is with good performances.”