- Sarah Boudaoud plays for GPSO 92 Issy in French top flight
- She is also a parliamentary attaché
- Since January 2020, she has also been an Algerian international
"The playing career for women footballers lasts until 30-35 years, and then it's over. Therefore I remind myself that I have seven or maybe eight years left in football."
While many players wait until the end of their careers to think about reskilling, Sarah Boudaoud, 24, started planning early. While playing in the first division of the French championship, she pursued her studies at Paris’s Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) and is now a part-time parliamentary attaché.
Born in Lyon in 1996, Sarah quickly realized that she was cut out for football. At the age of ten, she joined record European champions Olympique Lyonnais before leaving for the capital to continue her studies and join Parisian side GPSO 92 Issy, where she has been for the last six seasons.
"My studies? I lacked the requisite financial and corporate-strategy skills to be able to have my own consulting firm one day. So, in order to be legitimate, I had to have this master's degree." On top of the hours dedicated to obtaining her diploma, Boudaoud spends a lot of time between the National Assembly and work meetings with the deputy for whom she works as a parliamentary assistant.
"I joined my deputy’s team in December 2018 and was very well received despite not having all the necessary experience in the field. However, I adapted quickly adapted. There is an important body of legislative work, with the need to understand the texts voted on and summarise these articles and amendments."
As you can imagine, Sarah Boudaoud's days are extremely busy. Every day, she dons a different hat depending on the task at hand. "I have to plan things meticulously: football in the evening, classes during the day in two-hour time slots spread over the week. The remainder of my time is devoted to my work as a parliamentary attaché and to my coursework." So when does she rest? "When I sleep, which is very late... The good thing about the D1 is that the games are played on Saturdays, so I have Sundays free to recover!".
Sarah even added a fourth time-consuming activity to her schedule. "I created my association a few months ago. It’s called Wogether (a contraction of Woman Together) to assist high-level sportswomen with professional integration and personal development."
An understanding entourage
What Sarah really appreciates, and which allows her to her to multitask so reliably, is the people she has around her. "I’m fortunate to have a very tolerant deputy when it comes to my activities. He knows my constraints and deals with them very well."
That said, she sometimes misses training, but here too her coach is understanding. "He knows that I’m doing my best and that I try to be there as often as possible. When I really can't get away, he understands it. Moreover, I'm a serious about my commitments. If I have a dinner in the parliamentary setting, I’ll do my jogging or my strength and conditioning session when I get back to make up for the missed training session."
AFCON and World Cup in her sights
Boudaoud may do a lot of things, but she does them well. Despite the Covid-19 crisis, 2020 has been a particularly successful year for her in terms football, not least because her club GPSO 92 Issy managed to get back into Division 1. "We felt overjoyed even though we couldn't celebrate the promotion properly because of the restrictions."
2020 also saw the player get her first call-up to the Algeria national team. Despite having played for France at U-17 level, she decided to declare for her country of origin. And as in the other areas of her life, she has lofty ambitions there too.
"It’d be great to play at a World Cup. Algeria have the potential to compete with the top teams in Africa. We have the technical ability, so it’s more on the physical side that we have room to improve. Teams like Nigeria and Cameroon really make their physiques count and that’s where we need to apply ourselves. However, in terms of the quality of our play, we’re not far off. Winning the next Africa Cup of Nations is a realistic goal."
A varied future
However much she rubs shoulder with those at the top of the game, Sarah knows that it is not just winning football games that matters.
"When we have an important meeting with my parliamentary deputy and you see that it leads to legislation that can advance an entire area in the health sector (Editor's note: her deputy is on the Commission for Social Affairs and part the Health Digitalisation Study Group), it is really rewarding. I contribute with my two-cents worth and it can feel just as good as a victory in football. I feel useful and all the more complete."
At 24, Sarah Boudaoud still has many years left in football. "I've always said I'd like to live off football, but not for ten or 15 years, maybe for a year or two. I’d devote myself fully to it, given that I've been playing football for over 15 years now, so it’d be a pleasure to spend my days just getting up and training," she admits before concluding: "But it's also true that I need to have other activities to feel really fulfilled!"