A class that is suppressed and a business that closes are not the only symptoms of rural malaise. The survival of a football club is another. In Argy (Indre), the century-old sports association of this town of 610 inhabitants came close to disappearing in the summer of 2022. The departure of several players and the impossibility of finding new ones condemned it to put the key under the door. Until a “miracle” occurs: about fifteen migrants – mostly from sub-Saharan Africa – came by themselves to sign a license at the start of the season. Eight months later, the chronicle of an announced death has turned into a hymn to fraternity.
The story would be less unique if it did not have the 4e departmental division, one of the lowest federal levels. US Argy now has more nationalities in its ranks (seven) than any other club in the area, even more than the professional team of the department, Berrichonne de Châteauroux (National). Five Guineans, two Ivorians, two Haitians, two Malians, a Gambian, a Colombian and seven Frenchmen already present at the club rub shoulders there. At the start of the season, the squad was even more international. Registered in Argy, two Salvadoran brothers had to return home as part of voluntary return assistance. Targeted by an obligation to leave French territory, a Georgian preferred to join expatriates in Nantes.
The majority of new licensees have attended, or still attend, the reception center for asylum seekers (CADA) in Buzançais, a small town of 4,500 inhabitants located 6 kilometers away. Holders of refugee status or applicants for asylum, they were joined by former unaccompanied foreign minors and by parents of children under international protection. Aged between 19 and 33, they fled unstable political contexts, tense family situations or simply poverty. Almost all work or are in training in the trades of craftsmanship: masonry, roofing, baking, metalwork… Exile is the common point of these “footers” on Sundays, coached by a Kanak. The world seems to have met in this hamlet of Berry still equipped with a bakery and a class of CP-CE1.
In normal times, the US Argy is also worth a detour, if only for its bumpy terrain, overlooked on one side by grain silos, on the other by a 15th century castle.e century. A fiber cement stand and benches in yellowed polyester send the meager spectators – ten, rarely more – back several decades. Ditto for the bar, run by former players of the club, when it had a women’s section. Founded in 1921, the association acquired a nickname in the 1980s: the “Mulots d’Argy”. “In patois, the field mouse is the one who hangs around, who is stuck at the bar”deciphers the president of the club, Jean-Marie Biaunier, 62, former boss of the Café du center (now closed).
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Source: Le Monde