Brest Brittany Handball. Pauline Coatanéa: “I could only imagine this birth project in Brest” – Brest Bretagne Handball
How did you envision this motherhood project in relation to your professional handball career?
Pauline Coatanéa, right winger at Brest Bretagne Handball: “I’ve been in a relationship with my husband for a while, projects inevitably develop, and one day I didn’t wake up thinking I wanted a child. There’s an unknown behind motherhood: how the baby will be, how I’ll recover . There is one question. After the Tokyo Games (summer 2021), I thought to myself that I have already achieved a lot, because I don’t want to regret about my career. At that time, we allowed it, although it was still unthinkable, we were ready for it, because first I saw myself I had to manage, I was very tired after the Olympics…”.
Has France, Olympic and European champion decided to put handball aside for a while?
“Yes, if I didn’t participate in the Tokyo Games, my thinking might be different, I would probably give myself every chance to go to the Paris Olympics in 2024. But you can also get injured, you can no longer compete. The coach’s plans. It is what unites each other. There are so many things, but the main thing was to focus on the couple, to know if we were ready to be parents, to welcome the child in a good situation.It helped to have a background in the French team and six years in BBH, but it took over.
In December 2021, you extended your contract until 2025. Was it related to this pregnancy project with the aim of securing your job in case of maternity?
“No. At that time, stability in Brest and in the club was a desire to build something permanent and not to go somewhere else in a hurry. Signing for three years meant looking to the future, because sometimes the situation of a professional handball player is a bit dangerous.”
We have 100 minutes of life with handball and travel so I was advised to make the most of this time and my weekends!
When did you talk to the club about it?
“I spoke about it after Christmas, on December 26, a week before the restoration. I wanted to keep this secret because there is always uncertainty about the first months of pregnancy. I didn’t want to tell the group because the girls don’t want to touch me anymore because of what I said (laughs). I didn’t want the coach to feel responsible for anything. In agreement with the doctors of BBH and the French team, I undertook my obligations. I felt good, I continued to play until I felt it was impossible.”
How did the club respond to this announcement?
“They were happy for me, they thought of me and my happiness before they thought of my absence. They understood that it was in the continuity of my life as a woman. I got married this summer, it was natural. The club and the French team listen to the best possible support during pregnancy. I feel well covered. I could imagine this motherhood project only when I was in Brest. At another club, far away from my family, things would be difficult.
You are not the first BBH player to announce maternity during the season. You had Cleopatra Darleux and Isabelle Gullden before you. Did they open the doors?
“It’s also very easy to plan the whole and postpartum period. We have the likes of Bella, Cléo, as well as Laura Glauser and Siraba Dembélé, who are back even stronger. On a daily basis, we saw this with Cleo, and her evolving post-motherhood, growing athlete woman makes her want to follow the same path. We live so fast with handball and travel that I was advised to make the most of this time and my weekends (laughs)! “.
What do you spend your days doing?
“I feel good, I continue to be in the group to do physical activity. I exercise almost every day. I do a little bit at the beginning of the session, I continue the passes, the goalkeepers’ warm-up. I’m three months pregnant, it might be too long if I cut myself off from the group. It is important for me to still be here.”
Is the 2024 Olympics in Paris still a goal?
“My main goal will be to regain my form again. I have not set a recovery date. The Paris Games will remain the driving force for my recovery and return to competition, but I will do so without pressure. If I’m fit, I won’t miss the opportunity, that’s for sure. But in my thinking, given that there are so many unknowns in post-motherhood, I know I might not be there. I took this into account in my project.”