Friday 06 March 2020, 07:59

Sacrifices pay off for freestyle queen Donchet

  • Our #Sheroes series celebrates inspiring women in football

  • We put the spotlight on champion freestyler Melody Donchet

  • She talks about the sacrifices she has made to live out her passion and recover from serious injury

Over the years, the likes of Elisabeth Loisel, Marinette Pichon, Laura Georges, Louisa Cadamuro-Necib and modern-day heroes Amandine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer have fired the imaginations of generations of girls and young women in France, contributing to the development of the women’s game in the country.

Melody Donchet is just one of the many female football enthusiasts who has dreamed of following in their footsteps. Her hopes of doing so were raised when, at the age of 16, she was selected as one the top 16 young players in her home region of Nord-Pas-De-Calais, in northern France.

Unfortunately for her, she suffered a fate every professional player fears, before she could even become one. In 2008, aged just 18, she ruptured the cruciate ligaments in her knee, an injury that stopped her in her prime and spelled an end to her love affair with football. Her passion for the ball continued to burn bright, however.

A year later she discovered freestyle and saw in it an opportunity to make up for the frustration of missing out on a career in football. She was instantly drawn to the skills and tricks involved and the physical aspect of a spectacular discipline in which almost every part of the body is used.

“I started to practice for hours and hours on end,” she recalled. “What started out as a hobby very quickly became a passion and I soon forgot about wanting to play football.”

Totally devoted

Through sheer determination, intensive training and a lot of sacrifice, Melody put the regrets of her teenage years behind her and expressed her love for the ball to the full. And it was not long before good fortune smiled on her, thanks to a video she posted online, which quickly went viral.

What came next was a professional freestyling career, a glittering collection of trophies and the chance to live out her passion at last.

In the video she tells us her story and reflects on the cruel twist of fate that halted her burgeoning football career in it tracks and on how her luck eventually turned. She also discusses the sacrifices she has had to make and the satisfaction she now gets from freestyle.

“You have to be totally devoted to achieve this level of performance,” she said, getting her message across to all the other young girls who, like her, have fallen head over heels for the round leather ball.

Spotlight on the #Sheroes

This revealing look at Melody Donchet and her passion for freestyle continues FIFA’s series on amazing women in football. Visit our Sheroes video section to check out the stories of several other women who have inspired football fans around the world.