Lyon star Ada Hegerberg hit a clinical hat-trick in the Women’s Champions League final on Saturday helping the French side to a 4-1 win over Barcelona and a fourth consecutive title. The 2018 Ballon D’Or winner stole the show with three first-half goals in the Groupama Arena in Budapest, Hungary, with the sell out crowd enjoying an action-packed game full of quality. We spoke with Jeanne Lollichon, a BA (Hons) Football Business & Media third-year student at UCFB Wembley, who was invited to the final with UEFA’s WePlayStrong campaign, about the growth of the women’s game and what it’s like being an international student living in London…

Hi Jeanne, you went over to Budapest with UEFA’s WePlayStrong. How did that opportunity come about?

Jeanne: “Participation has increased a lot and the role of women in football is more and more important every year.”

Hi. Yes, basically a member of the PR team contacted me via Instagram and asked me if I would be interested in going to Budapest with UEFA’s WePlayStrong for the Women’s Champions League final which saw Lyon beat Barcelona 4-1. Then that same person simply emailed me telling me they would like to invite me to be involved in the activities that had been organised including the Women’s European Freestyle Championship, a panel debate, and the big match. In return, I shared my experience online using the different hashtags. I believe that my work on YouTube covering women’s football was the reason for the invite. I was also recently a finalist for Best Women’s Football Content Creator award at the Football Blogging Awards. I did not win but it definitely helped boost my profile.

How important do you think campaigns like WePlayStrong are when it comes to changing perceptions of women’s football?

I think it is an amazing and important campaign. The participation has increased a lot and the role of women in football is more and more important every year. In my opinion, the WePlayStrong campaign, created in 2017, came at the right time. It is also crucial for a governing body such as UEFA to support women’s football and prove this sport is also for girls. You can see the public’s perception of women’s football is more positive than it was 10 years ago. Teenage girls had to play with boys and were often the only ones on their teams, and the media coverage was poor. But now you see academies, structured leagues and obviously more coverage and advertising which encourage women to get involved! Also, I heard many English fans following the three lions saying they are excited to see the Lionesses at the World Cup this summer in France. This is what the campaign does.

Now on to the game, Lyon walked away with the trophy after a stunning first-half hat-trick from Ada Hegerberg. How was your experience of the game?

Oh, it was amazing! I felt really privileged to be there because I really did not expect to get an invite. The football was good and the atmosphere impressed me! About 19 200 people were there making noise. Unfortunately, as many people said before the match, Lyon’s performance was expected. Barcelona came in as the underdog but against such an opponent it seemed very difficult for Toni Duggan and her teammates to stop the unstoppable. Lyon was more aggressive which lead to the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Hegerberg, scoring a hat-trick in 16 minutes. It was crazy! This is when I really noticed the level difference between the two teams. The French side could have scored a few more in the second half but were unlucky. Barcelona managed to score a goal which was well-deserved considering the half they just played. However, I think it is sad that the winner was that expected. Let’s not forget that Lyon have now won the competition 4 times in a row. I think people would have preferred a fair battle. Other than that, the organisation and the public were great. I had a lovely time with people who were all involved in women’s football, players, journalists, YouTubers, freestylers, etc. It was fabulous!

How big of an advert for the women’s game was a performance like that? Can you tell us more about how that Lyon team are perceived in France?

It is great to promote the game. Hegerberg’s hat-trick within 16 minutes also had a great impact as she became the second player to score a first-half treble since Ferenc Puskas. Once again the only drawback is that it shows the supremacy of Lyon when football is not only just about one team performance but suspense, especially in a final! The Lyon women’s team is very popular in France. French football fans, even if they don’t follow the women’s game, know about Lyon. Maybe it is because the men’s teams are struggling in the Champions League! No, seriously, people here really respect them, even if you come from another city like me. There is no hate towards rivals in women’s football so people are really happy to see a French team leading the game.

Lyon won their sixth Champions League title in the Ferencváros Stadion

You’re off to the Women’s World Cup in June with one of the biggest TV stations in France, tell us a bit about your role there?

Yes, and I am so excited! So I will be working for Canal+ in Paris during the whole competition. I don’t know exactly what my role will be because I could be asked to do anything really, from helping the production team, finding information about the teams for the commentators… I think whatever the tasks will be it will be an amazing experience for me especially because it is in French, my mother tongue, as I mainly worked in English.

Who’s your favourite to win the tournament?

I obviously want to say France… But I think England have a big chance to win the tournament. After winning the SheBelieves Cup, the Lionesses have shown that they can be taken very seriously. This is what Liv Cook, the famous freestyler, also told me [laughs]. Why not France v England in the final? [laughs] If England win, I probably will never step in England again.

Your time at UCFB is coming to an end, can you tell us about your experience as an international student in London?

It’s gone very quick! It was a big challenge for me to move abroad because I was a very shy person before. Even my family was confused when I said I wanted to go to London! Looking back at it now, I made a good choice. Studying football business and media in the country of football is quite cool. I was also happy to meet other international students at UCFB especially with my Spanish friends. I made some amazing memories in this iconic stadium. I think going abroad really makes you grow as a person very quickly and you obviously go home with a great CV! Overall I don’t regret anything, London is definitely the best city in the world.

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