THE STORY OF A PREORDAINED DESTINY
At only 25, Allison Pineau already has a long career as a handball player behind her, numerous victories to her name and is a key player in the French national team.
Some careers are mapped out from the start but with her extraordinary physical abilities and natural talent, handball was not necessarily Allison’s only option. In the end, chance meetings often determine an athlete’s career and this was very much the case for Allison.
Like many children, she had a go at lots of different activities, including tottering around in a tutu at ballet lessons when she was six. With her brother, she used to take part in sports courses during the school holidays and it was there that her talents were spotted by a handball player.
Daniel Deherme, the then coach at Aubervilliers and now the French Handball Federation’s Sports’ Advisor, asked her to come and try out at the Aubervilliers club at the start of the school year. Allison not only went along herself but she persuaded some of her friends to go along too and that, as they say, was that – she has not left the 40 by 20 metre handball court since. Well, apart from one notable incursion into table tennis when she became French Schools’ Table Tennis champion in her early teens!
Daniel Deherme supervised her early playing days at the Aubervilliers municipal club between 2001 and 2003 during which time her career choices gradually became clearer – she would set her sights on becoming a professional handball player. Allison Pineau’s determination, natural talent and ball-handling skills as well as her outstanding physical strength won her a place on the French talented athletes’ scholarship scheme and, from 2003 to 2006, she played at the Villemomble club coached by Thierry Tayan.
It was the start of a long career and she soon gained recognition at international level: as a player with the French Youth team, Allison was voted best centre-back at the European Championships in Austria in 2005, an award that she again won in the Junior category at the World Championships.
Allison was not yet 18 when she was picked by head coach Olivier Krumbolz for the French National “A” team. That was on the 27th February 2007 for a friendly match against China in Nantes. After that Allison’s career really took off – the World Championships in France just as she turned 18, the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 as a substitute. This was a difficult and frustrating role, but Allison was there to learn and appreciate what world-class competition was all about…and sometimes, as she discovered with the quarter-final defeat against Russia, it is a painful experience.
Her club career continued in Issy-les-Moulineaux from 2006 to 2009, before she packed her bags and headed for Lorraine and the top women’s club in France: Metz Handball. Another three seasons there added a French Championship, the French Cup and two League Cups to her collection of trophies.
Her international career developed at the same time: in 2009, with her French national team-mates, the so-called “Femmes de Défis” (“défi”, meaning “challenge”, referring to both the sporting and professional challenges that the women took up), Allison won the silver medal in a very promising World Championship debut in Beiijng.
2009: the year that established her reputation at the age of 20. The public voted her the International Handball Federation’s World Player of the Year – a major achievement but also one that a player subsequently has to learn to live with in terms of the expectations of some and the occasional critical reactions of others. It wasn’t always easy but Allison, aware that her career choice also had its potential pitfalls, took it in her stride. The woman who is compared to a big cat on court carried on working hard, perfecting her game and progressing to become the undisputed star attacker of Les Bleues. Allison had a fighting spirit that could not be knocked out of her. However, in December 2011 at the World Championships in Brazil, with the whole of France whipped into fever pitch by the exploits of the Femmes de Défis, it was her own knee that knocked her out of the semi-final against the Danes. This meant that she was not only out for the eagerly-awaited final (France lost to the Norwegians, taking the silver medal) but that her immediate prospects were bleak for summer 2012 and the Olympic Games. The countdown began for Allison who did everything possible to join her team-mates preparing for the Olympic Games in London, putting in countless hours of training to be fit enough, just six months after her injury; the team had medal ambitions but history decided otherwise and the scars left by this failure would take a long time to heal.
Allison’s attitude has always been “keep going and never retreat in the face of difficulties”. On the club front, the time had come to leave the French Championship League and go off to discover the world. First stop Romania with CS Oltchim Râmnicu Vâlcea and then in July 2013 on to the Republic of Macedonia with SCBT Vardar. Alongside other international-class players and her two French team-mates, Amandine Leynaud and Siraba Dembélé, Allison continued to work on her game as the months went by. Vardar’s goal of reaching the Final Four for the first time in the history of the Women’s Champions’ League was accomplished but the team came up against stiff opposition in the semi-final and had to settle for a disappointing third place.
At 25, Allison Pineau has an instinctive approach to her career, which so far has worked well for her. The centre-back of the Femmes de Défis has signed up for two more seasons with Skopje on the banks of the River Vardar, hoping to win the coveted Champions’ League title. In mutual consentment with her club, she left Skopje at the end of October to join RK Krim Mercator in Slovenia.
In December, Allison will be back with the French national team for the European Championships in Croatia and Hungary, which will take her up to the end of 2014, just twenty months away from an international event that she is already planning for: the Olympic Games in Rio.
We think you get the picture. Allison is a young woman who knows where she is going and does everything she can to get there. On court, she is a playmaker who gives her all. Off court, she is also involved in the promotion of her sport.
For the past year or so she has taken on an advisory role at the women’s club Stella St-Maur, now in the D2F, giving her time whenever she can to help with sporting and club issues.
Allison is planning for her post-playing career with the same determination that she shows on court, supported, as always, by her loved ones and family. She rarely talks about them, preferring to keep her private life out of the limelight, but she recognises that her friends and family play a vital role in keeping her balanced.
Allison obviously has plenty of plans for her second career, but she will only go public when the time is right…
It’s easy to forget that she has only just turned 25. She still has a long sporting career ahead of her, that much is sure!
Her family, She keeps it very much to herself … You will understand, Allison protects herself and her family also. She agrees to disclose on its own website and talks about her pillars which accompany her everyday, which are her strength …
“My family is my anchor point, my mother and my brother are the essence of all my motivations. I was raised by my mother to whom I owe everything. Her strict upbringing has made me what I am today and I am proud. She taught me how to become a good person, taught me values which I attach great importance. A big thank you to you Mom.
My little brother, Michael … Younger only because it is now taller than me! I love it! I left home at 14 to join the pole and I regret not having seen him grow. I hope to be an example to him and even though I’m not often at his side, he’s in my heart and my thoughts go with him.