The France forward combines scoring goals with a role working for a chemical company, where colleagues are backing her pursuit of silverware.
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France’s Clara Matéo chooses to combine her successful playing career with working for a French company developing sports, leisure, eyewear and luxury products. The 24-year-old graduated with an engineering degree in September 2020, just two months before she made her international debut for Les Bleues.
As she embarks on her first senior international tournament, the Paris FC forward reflects on her journey and how she benefits from a dual focus.
Clara Matéo on… her off-field journey
I passed my science baccalaureate at school and I always wanted to continue my studies so, after my BAC I took a DUT (technology degree) in science and engineering for two years. Then I enrolled in an engineering school, where I studied for three years and I graduated with an engineering degree specialised in materials in September 2020.
In March 2021, I joined Arkema, which is a French chemical company, so, alongside my footballing career I work – I have a contract which has me working at 40% capacity, which allows me to devote time to practising sport. It suits me to have two careers and as long as I’m successful in both, I’ll keep going.
Clara Matéo on… finding a professional balance
Continuing both careers has always been important to me because it gives me a balance. I’ve always felt, from a young age, that I needed to prepare for life after football. Once I had prepared for that, my mind was more at ease in the present. Now, it allows me to see my colleagues, speak to them, broaden my perspectives, and when I arrive at training my brain has been working all day, so it helps me focus on training.
I gain a lot of values working for a company like Arkema that I also find practising a team sport like football - values of solidarity, sharing, a desire to perform and also creativity. On the pitch, creativity is very important. So, the values we obtain in both cases can work in tandem.
Clara Matéo on… her pride at playing for France
To wear the blue shirt give me pride and immense happiness. When I was ten, I dreamed of wearing this blue jersey and now, when I look back on my journey, I realise it’s been such a great journey. Always believe in your dreams. It’s only the beginning, I haven’t done anything yet, but it’s lovely to wear this shirt and the idea is to stay and win together.
Clara Matéo on… support from those around her
There are times when I concentrate more on football when the professional side is a little less intense and, conversely, when football is a bit quieter, I concentrate on my professional career. The balance works well and Arkema are very understanding and attentive to my sporting career.
I receive a lot of messages from my colleagues, it’s nice to know they’re following me. They’re all behind me, they’re all behind France, they watch every match, and they give us a lot of support.
I’ve always been surrounded by the right people, whether that’s family or friends, and they have always been very attentive and have always been there to encourage me and help me make certain choices. It’s important to have the right people around you at the top level.
I would like to thank them for their support every day. They have been there for the difficult times as well as the more joyful times, and that’s important, so I want to thank them.