Handball: Béatrice Edwige, strong bulwark of the Blue

Les Bleues, the return. They had lived it very badly, their collective bankruptcy in December 2019 in Japan, and this elimination from the World Cup in the preliminary round. A failure unworthy of their status as world champions (in 2017) and Europe (in 2018 at home). So they got back to work, and here they are this Friday, December 18 against Croatia, in the last four of the European Championship in Denmark. Their rightful place.

Les Bleues are on the attack again, thanks to their defense. Because it is the trademark of Olivier Krumbholz’s team: its ability to disgust the opponent, to the point of foiling the best goal hunters. And to carry out this maneuver, there is one that never balks: Béatrice Edwige, the “Patroness” as his coach calls him. The control tower of this brazen defense, considered at 32 as the best in the world at its pivotal post.

A career in small steps

Score, of course she can. His almost 80 goals in blue testify to this. But she has long since specialized in this more thankless role: to ensure on this Euro “80% in defense and 20% in attack” suits him very well. Working in the shadows is not a problem for her, as long as the job pays off. And she repeats it over and over: he necessarily pays. It has always been his credo, since his very late first steps in the discipline.

Born in Paris but having grown up in Mana, west of Guyana, the girl was first inspired by one of her idols, the Guadeloupean Marie-José Pérec. It is athleticism that first appeals to her, long jump and even hammer throw. It is quite austere. She accommodates it. But he misses the collective. At 15, when she now lives in France, she adopted handball, where her athleticism soon paid off. Its movement speed is all the rage, and with its size (1.82 m), it is already moving in defense.

History to make its place? Not so fast. Béatrice Edwige does not cut corners, on the contrary. It is building up slowly, but surely. Professional start in 2008 in Celles-sur-Belle (Deux-Sèvres), then five years in Dijon, two in Nice and finally the consecration in the summer of 2016 in Metz, the flagship club of France. For Les Bleues, not everything was done at lightning speed. A first selection in 2013, then two years without really confirming, and the final takeoff from 2015 with the sequence of the Tokyo Games (Olympic vice-champion) and the world and then European coronation. Since the summer of 2019, the best world in her position has necessarily officiated in the best club in the world, in Gyor, Hungary.

The value of working over the shoulder

Throughout this trajectory, a single imperative: rigor and work. Rigor to channel a fiery temperament that the referees often sanction, work to increase its level even more. Béatrice Edwige has made a specialty of video analysis. She expertly deciphers the play of her opponents, dissects them to find the best placement, the best strategy. “In life, you have to coal to get what you want”, she emphasizes.

She also wants to promote this line of conduct through the Béatrice Seynabou Edwige association, launched in 2017 with her mother Patricia, a social worker in a college in Guyana. “We need positive images and transmit real values”, she defended in the summer of 2019 on an overseas visit. Playing ambassadors, Béatrice Edwige no longer deprives herself of it, even if it means scratching from time to time the lack of relay that she regrets. When the league is not in a hurry to help it with its association, when the media are not jostling, apart from international campaigns, to follow women’s sport: “I sometimes tell myself that thirty seconds on the women’s hand more often in the media would perhaps allow young people, girls or boys, to identify with sports other than football and which also emit values. We do not run after fame, but sometimes we deserve more recognition. “

In the meantime, the Blue are still facing the same equation: to reproduce again the feat in their international campaigns, with the Tokyo Games in sight and the Olympic title, the only one missing from their record. This Friday, they will have to close ranks again against the unknown Croatian (see opposite). Béatrice Edwige will no doubt draw additional motivation from her memories. Croatia is the team she played in 2013 for her first selection in blue.


Croatian surprise

But where do they come from? Croatia in the semi-finals of the Euro is the big surprise of the competition. Since 2010, the selection for the red and white checkered jerseys had never passed the first round in European competition. She also pointed to subscribers absent from the World Cup since 2011, and the Olympic Games since 2012. She will not be in Tokyo in 2021, her results do not allow her to claim the qualifying tournament next March. A boon for the Blues? Coach Olivier Krumbholz prefers to be wary: “It’s a very atypical team, very difficult to play. They play with refereeing, they keep the ball. You will have to be as smart as they are and above all very stable. “


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