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“We could sail on the ground”: the struggle of flooded football clubs in Pas-de-Calais

Orange alert in Pas-de-Calais, but red alert for football clubs. While the department is affected by violent episodes of flooding due to weather conditions – 230 liters of rain per square meter have fallen over the past three weeks – it is the sports associations which are suffering. Of the 250 municipalities concerned in Pas-de-Calais, many of them housed football fields, which are now completely flooded.

In the Côte d’Opale, 80% of the land is impassable according to the figures provided to us by the District. It has even been three weeks since the various amateur championship days have been postponed. “Not all stadiums are necessarily completely flooded. But if we play on them, they will be plowed. We know very well that we won’t play again for 3 weeks or 1 month. It’s not yet official, but it’s hard to believe that we will resume competitions before Christmas,” explains Dominique Hary, general secretary of the District.

“Like a lake”

For the moment, only training and friendly matches on synthetic pitches are authorized, but they are few in number in the department, only around thirty for nearly 200 clubs. And again, even those who benefit from it like the Wimille club have had unpleasant surprises by finding their stadium completely buckled under the effect of the water. “Brand new equipment costing several hundred thousand euros in this condition because of the rain… How is that possible? It’s a shock to see all this. We wonder if the equipment was well built,” laments Mathieu Lesot, the president of this club of 270 members, to Le Parisien.

With the overflow of the Wimereux, the watercourse bordering the stadium, the other grass pitches also disappeared under the precipitation. “It was like a lake. You could go boating or paddleboarding on it. The club premises were also affected. We’ve been trying to evacuate everything for a week,” says the president.

However, the Wimille club is trying to ensure a certain continuity for its 200 young licensees thanks in particular to the solidarity of neighboring clubs who have offered to make their playable fields available. Homework help times or board games instead of training have also been set up. “We refrain from complaining because there are more serious things in life. The objective is to continue to give them a breath of fresh air in their daily lives,” hopes Mathieu Lesot, who shared a message calling for help on social networks.

For Wimille as for the other clubs in the department, these floods and their consequences come at the wrong time. “After seasons marked by Covid… We were barely recovering from it and here another thing like that is going to hurt,” warns the general secretary of the Côte d’Opale District. As there is no football, there is no more money coming in, and we continue to pay our employees. This is a catastrophic situation! »

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