Monday 22 December 2014

Student Interview #12 - Adil on being part of the ESSEC Football Club

A few days ago I was travelling on the RER A - Paris’ notorious suburban train service - on my way back from Choisy le Roi to Cergy (the vast student residence home to myself and hundreds of international students) and that day on board the train with me was the ESSEC football team - or EFC as it is known in the school’s corridors.

After a good start to the season, EFC had just experienced its first loss against ESIEE – a school in the south of Paris. The game was outrageously one-sided in our favour with EFC’s trademark direct style (meticulously drilled into us over the last few months by our coach of 26 years, Jean-Michel Bessière) proving too much for the opposition. It seemed, though, that while the team had managed to drag the shirts, bibs, water bottles and footballs to the other side of Paris, something crucial had been left behind: the shooting boots. Wasteful finishing allowed ESIEE to take home the points - the final score being 1-0 with the home side scoring from its only shot on goal....

I noticed to my right a tearful first-year student being consoled by the captain. Though I’ve never taken a football match seriously enough to be reduced to tears, I wasn’t surprised to see the young lad so distraught. For him, like the rest of us, a lost match represented an opportunity missed, and if there’s one thing which ESSEC students hate, it’s missing opportunities.

When I joined ESSEC, I had convinced myself that I would broaden my choice of extra-curricular activities. I’d already spent one degree prioritising sport over all else (it’s hard to avoid it in a sport-mad town like Manchester) so perhaps at ESSEC I’d try my hand at debating, entrepreneurship, volunteering, anything but sport.

In the end the lure of EFC proved too much. After attending the first training session on a whim, and being handed the EFC ‘Bible’, I knew that this was less a club and more a weird and wonderful family. A family which spends pre-season team-building weekends at the legendary Clairefontaine, whose captain sends hilarious rallying e-mails before each game, whose coach writes a pages-long poem at the conclusion of each match, and many other things which I probably shouldn’t write here.

To my mind, EFC is a microcosm of ESSEC’s culture. The students who arrive at ESSEC are intelligent, motivated, innovative and open-minded. This blueprint forms the backbone of ESSEC student life and the result is over 90 associations (societies/clubs/teams) and hundreds of opportunities to do something truly unique with interesting people from all corners of the world. From Plaidessec (which organises comedy debates), to Tuonglai (charity work in Vietnam) to Reve FM (the school’s main radio station) to ESNA (my own asso, promoting North American culture and sport on campus). There really is no shortage of opportunity. You could even start your own association!

The only thing you have to do to make the most of ESSEC’s varied student life is throw yourself into it. Don’t be afraid to reach out. French people can seem standoffish at first, but when they get to know you they’ll be the most entertaining group of friends you’ve had. When you get to ESSEC, enjoy the first month with your international pals but once it’s done make sure to attend la Nuit des Assos (the night of associations), Rallye des Assos and the recruitment sessions. To play an active role in an association is 100% the best way to learn the French language, enjoy the culture, and immerse yourself in the brilliantly eccentric life of an ‘ESSEC’.

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