Through Rugby editorial staff
Originally fromAubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis), the powerful third line of Rouen Normandy Rugby, Abdelkarim Fofana (25 years old) had a course strewn with obstacles before becoming a professional rugby player. He started rugby in UNSS in his town of Aubervilliers, then committed to Bobigny. “Before, I had played football, a little combat sports, but especially wrestling”, indicates the person concerned.
The Senegalese international then joined the French stadium (4 seasons) and Brive (3 seasons), playing with Les Espoirs, notably with Parisians Paul Gabrillagues and Dany Priso (currently in La Rochelle) and Corréziens Simon-Pierre Chauvac and Demba Bamba (currently in Lyon). He also got to know the current manager of Rouen, Nicolas Godignon, who then ran the CAB pros, with whom he sometimes trained. But it is at Valence d’Agen (Fed 1) that he really started his professional career, with seniors in 2018.
“In Brive, I worked from 12 noon to 6 a.m., with a 3 hour break”
After one season in Tarn-et-Garonne, then two others in RC Suresnes, in Federal 1 then in National, the 25-year-old player joined Rouen in June 2021. He recovered from a rupture of the cruciate ligaments to find a place with the RNR and Abdelkarim Fofana to impose. Because of his personality and his presence on the pitch. He has already played 9 Pro D2 games this season and scored a try against Narbonne, proving that his serious knee injury of November 2020 was only a distant memory.
However, to achieve victory among the pros, Abdelkarim Fofana had to fight daily for years. “I have walked through paths you cannot imagine,” he says. I come from a big family. At home, we are eight children, but I did not transmit the rugby virus even though I tried. My relatives thank me a lot, but it’s not their hobby. They are no longer on foot. I am the only one to have deviated. “
During his time at Brive, the Ile-de-France was doing endless days. “I worked at Intermarché. I was doing 12-18 hours and I was going to train with the Espoirs. I finished at 8 p.m. I rested for 3 hours and at 11 p.m. I worked in a nightclub as a bouncer until 6 a.m. And rebelotte the next day. I also remember a preparation with the pros during Ramadan. In the evening, I was at work in a club and I arrived at 7 am with the pros. I left at 5 p.m. and went to a club for the night. It was hard, but I needed it financially. Whatever happens, i am a boss, for a classic job or in rugby. »Meeting with this player who strengthens courage:
News: It seems that Rouen Normandie Rugby has been following you for a while …
Abdelkarim Fofana: Indeed, he had been following my performances for two years. It was a great show of confidence that he turned to me in the spring, because it was hard to come back from such a knee injury, especially in a higher division than I knew. In National, I could have had time to pick up the pace but with the pros, it was more complicated.
Comment did you work during this period of convalescence?
A F : I was well taken in hand at Suresnes. I prepared very well. In my head, I always want to be taken by the best and come back to my best level. It’s an obsession with me. I went to Cape Breton for my rehabilitation, to Lyon with specialists… When I arrived in Rouen, I was practically ready. There were just a few details to work out. And then, the two physical trainers Alessio (Cavallini) and Alex (Vié) took good care of me. They spared me on the first sessions, because I had to pick up the pace. Here, it runs more, it is more lively. It’s really square. As I knew the coach’s working method, it was easier. I quickly adapted …
When you signed in Rouen, Nicolas Godignon had not yet signed up with the RNR …
A F : Indeed, I was hired under Richard Hill. With Nicolas, we spoke and he was happy that I was there. He loves my values and I love his. There was everything to get along.
What do you expect from this season in Rouen personally?
A F : To have playing time to show myself, and to sign up for the long term with the club. For the moment, it’s cool, it’s not bad for a guy who comes back from the Crusaders and the Nationale.
Through your attitude on the pitch, do you seem to be a leader?
A F : I have always been a captain where I have been, even in Suresnes where there were four of us. I had been to Valence d’Agen at the end of the season. In Brive, I was there for three seasons in Espoirs, also a little at the Stade Français at the end. It’s ingrained in me and I feel obligated to motivate my teammates. I take the example of Matthieu Bonnot who imbues me with this.
What is your favorite job?
A F : At the moment I am pure 8, but I can play flanker as well for troubleshooting. Versatility is important. At this level, everything is precise, I know what to do. Everything is organized, precise. You have to stay within the framework.
Do you comment on your style?
A F : I’m a ball player, I like big crashes and pushing the team forward. Afterwards, I still have to improve in defense, by putting more attacking tackles.
Collected by Alain Gelin, for Actu Rouen Normandie Rugby
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