Posted on Apr 13
The coach of Ligue 1's bottom club Auxerre, Jean-Guy Wallemme, has shown his players that things could be much worse -- by taking them on a visit to a local prison.
Wallemme replaced Laurent Fournier as coach last month and has only seven games to close the six-point gap separating Auxerre from safety in the French top flight.
The 44-year-old, who is also the coach of the Congolese national team, revealed that he had taken an unusual measure to improve team morale in a press conference prior to Sunday's home game with title challengers Paris Saint-Germain.
"We made a visit on Friday to a place that isn't easy to get into, which enabled us to see that once you leave it, you're free," he said. "It was the Auxerre prison."
Asked to explain the thinking behind the visit, Wallemme replied: "Once you're there, you realise the true measure of a value that is important to man: that he is free. You need to remind yourself every day.
"When we arrived in the yard, there was a bit of jeering. But that's one of the things you have to expect. The people are locked behind bars.
"It started like that, and then there were some cheers: 'Go on, you have to beat PSG on Sunday! Come on AJA!'
"We're a microcosm of the privileged, we're free men. Compared to what happens in football -- the media interest, the money around the game -- the people there might be disappointed and bitter, and they show it.
"I think it does you good to hear that and it puts certain things into perspective."