It's not been that often, over the past years, that you could say France were one of the favourites for a major championship. Their pedigree has always been second to none, yet their application in the final stages have always flattered to deceive. This year, however, things fell into place quite perfectly for the Gallic maestro's! A poor venue saw just about every nation fish for 'eyeballs'. France must have thought all their Christmas' had come at once! For so long had the tactics been stacked against them, for so long they had to adapt to tactics sometimes alien to them. This time Poland offered them salvation and a more than even chance of a podium position.

We are pleased to bring you a translated interview that French captain, Jean-Pierre Misseri, gave to Nicolas Beroud of InfoPeche. We hope you find it interesting.

InfoPeche (IP)

First off let me congratulate you and the squad, on behalf of all the team at InfoPeche and our readers. My first question is how did you go about preparing for this Championship?

Jean-Pierre Misseri (J-PM)
In reality there are two distinct phases to our preparation. The first phase – before the Championship –  involves keeping in regular contact with the team and motivating them for a major championship. A team is a unit and we need to work together. It is important that your anglers arrive for the practise sessions with the desire and belief that they can win!

The second preparation phase happens once we arrive at the venue and, in particular, during the practise sessions leading up to the big match. We arrived on the Saturday, the day before the official practise sessions started and looked at the canal and some of the teams training off the official match length, like the English, who had been there for a week already and were catching virtually nothing, save a few small fish in the margins. We got our gear out and had a quick first fish – really just to get a feel for the venue. It was clear straight away that the margins were an interesting area to fish in and could be crucial to the final result.

Monday was the first official day of practise so we let each of the team fish as they wished, without giving too much direction, except not to ignore the margin lines. Jean-Pierre Fougeat was very active with the anglers and his experience and ability helped to build confidence within the squad that they were making the right choices, both technically and tactically. This was something we talked a lot about during those first days... defining tactics and techniques!

By Wednesday evening we had begun to put together a definitive plan and then used the final two days we spent just fine tuning the last few details. The weeks training had done much to build confidence and, in particular, Mickael Boursaud, Jerome Vasseur and Alain Dewimille had shone through as being particularly comfortable with catching nets of very small fish.

On Friday night I confirmed my team selection and we all felt that a podium place was there for the taking. The anglers and staff were sure we would do well, thanks to a good practise week.

What has, in your opinion, made such a difference to this team?

Confidence, without a moments hesitation! This is the first time that I have had the chance to lead a team, alongside Jean-Pierre Fougeat, that have been so sure of their own ability to do well! I found all the members calm, self confident and even serene! We had the will to do well and everyone played their part during the practise week. Motivation was a big factor too. Everyone was disappointed with how the team performed last year and wanted to turn things around and prove that we were still capable of competing with the best in the world!

The fishing has been tough and the weights the lowest ever recorded for a European Championship. Do you think this has helped France secure victory?

Stephan pottelet concentrates as he amasses 279 'eyeballs' from A24, to take a 2nd in sectionStephan pottelet concentrates as he amasses 279 'eyeballs' from A24, to take a 2nd in section

Alain Dewimille makes full use of the length of his alloted area by running down the margin! Alain Dewimille makes full use of the length of his alloted area by running down the margin! J-PM

Alain Dewimille looks down at his day one catch, some as small as 1 gram!Alain Dewimille looks down at his day one catch, some as small as 1 gram!We won the fishing for tiny fish, between 1 and 10 grams, near to bankside vegetation. These fish were mainly gudgeon, ide, bleak and perch fry. For sure, the weights were low but the number of fish caught was very high. Stephan Pottelet caught over 500 fish over the two match days! All the teams were targeting these fish, but the French won because of their tenacity and technical superiority at this style of fishing. Alain Dewimille is another angler who showed particular flair, especially in the second leg. After an hour he was virtually blanking but he managed to get good section points by short-lining anywhere between 2 to 10 metres down the edge, effectively using the full length of his margin to scratch the maximum number of fish out. This style of fishing is very demanding, believe me!

As a result of these Championships, are there anglers who are now staking a claim for full selection in future French squads?

He may have had a difficult tournament, but Didier Delannoy is one of Frances' key players.He may have had a difficult tournament, but Didier Delannoy is one of Frances' key players.J-PM
This is a double-edged question, as all the team have been good. Despite a poor result for Didier on Saturday, he played a full part in the team like all the other anglers. It is not so much about one angler shining over the rest. Jean-Pierre Fougeat and I have found this, a team of anglers who work and perform well together. This is a team who will, I am sure, be winning more medals in the future!

Everyone now in France has their eyes fixed on the forthcoming  World Championships in Italy. We understand that there is a modification in the team as Diego da Silva will not be taking part. This is something of an surprise as he has been central to the team for at least the last 10 years!

True, Diego will not be part of the squad for this years World Champs. I talked to him on the phone but he has decided to retire from the team. I think Diego took it badly being named as first reserve in the squad, rather than a full squad member. However, I feel that a reserve has a big role to play in a teams success – as important a role as the anglers fishing! So, for this years World Champs, Alain Dewimille will be our first reserve and he has had some good results over recent years at world level. The full squad will be; Stephane Pottelet, Paul-Louis Lafont, Didier Delannoy, Jerome Vasseur and Paul-Louis Renault. I believe these anglers have the ability to be world champions.

The European Championships have been the first big match you have worked with Jean-Pierre Fougeat. How did it go working together

French legend Jean-Pierre Fougeat. Can he help keep the motivation going in the team for the upcoming World Champs?French legend Jean-Pierre Fougeat. Can he help keep the motivation going in the team for the upcoming World Champs?J-PM
I am proud yo be working hand-in-hand with Jean-Pierre. He is one of Frances' most famous anglers, whose presence alone does much to reassure our team members. He is a man of few words, but what he does say cuts straight to the heart of the matter. He is a great technical thinker and our collaboration works perfectly, as we are both working for the same goal; to get our squad to top level. I do believe that Jean-Pierre is one of those characters that you need in your coaching staff to get results. I am delighted with our collaboration so far and hope it lasts many years to come!

The World fishing Games in Italy are approaching fast. What do you want to get out of this event?

Our main aim is to return to France once more with medals around our necks and we are doing everything to make this happen! I have great faith in our anglers and staff. Some have already been out fishing the venue in a big match at the end of July, organised by Maver, at their own cost . This match took place on the World Champs length at Ostellato and already the anglers now have some idea of what the venue fishes like, before we go into the two week practise sessions. We are motivated to win and go to this event with the 'bit' firmly lodged between our teeth ready for victory!

Would you like to take advantage of this interview to add anything else?

If the captain thought he was going to get away without a bath, he was sadly mistaken!If the captain thought he was going to get away without a bath, he was sadly mistaken!We are first and foremost delighted to come back from Poland with a gold team medal and an individual silver. Even so, lets make no mistake, there is still a lot of work ahead of us to get France back to being a top angling nation again. Our internal structures are still not right and our match rules are not adapted to creating a real elite. I think we need to encourage more competitions in France like the Masters de l’Est, where fishing is open – no bait or pole limits. With this type of match our anglers can express themselves more. In France we are not used to using and managing large quantities of bait. It is this type of match practise that will teach our anglers how to do this more than during training sessions. We want the French team to do well and to do that they need to have the means to do so. Our national squad should make young anglers dream of being part of it and, believe me, we are doing everything we can to create a squad to fly our national colours with pride!