Jacques: “I really want to go to Budapest, but as a player this time”
“Tough” is the word that comes around the most when Emma Jacques speaks about her time last season. One of the brightest talents to come out of the Metz handball school in a long time, the left-hander was struck down mid-flight by a knee injury back in April last year. “I took a few days to take it in and to start smiling again. This torn ACL, along with the meniscus injury that I suffered in November, made last season a hard one for me” she says.
But all's well that ends well; just seven months on from getting injured, Emma Jacques got running again. It was at the start of December, in a Champions League game against Kastamonu. Fifteen minutes before the end of the one-sided game, coach Manu Mayonnade decided to give her the opportunity for a warm welcome back in front of her fans.
“This was completely unexpected, I just thought I would sit through the game. But then I came on, I scored six, and we celebrated my birthday that evening with all my teammates. That was an amazing day” remembers Jacques, who recently turned 21.
And almost as if nothing happened, Emma Jacques was back on track. While she was a regular fixture in the France national team, the Women's EHF EURO break in November gave her the opportunity to come back in the best shape possible. “I used those few weeks to do a lot of physical work. While some of my teammates were at the Euro, I was working on my own, but it felt ok, I did not mind. All that was on my mind was that I really wanted to come back” she remembers.
Now that things are running again, Emma Jacques just “wants to help the team, as this month of January is going to be crazy.” The French side will be hosting Team Esbjerg on Sunday for the first MOTW of 2023, before the French side host Györ and Rapid Bucuresti before the end of the group phase.
“The goal is really to finish among the two best teams in the group, to make it directly to the quarter-finals and maybe have a slightly easier quarter-finals. But in order to achieve that, we must have a very good record in the last five games” states Jacques.
In fact, Esbjerg were the only team that were able to defeat Metz in the nine first rounds of the Womens EHF Champions League, making Sunday’s clash even more important. “I expect a very tough game, against a team that is among the favourites to make it to the FINAL4” says Jacques, who is willing to tell us what would be an even more perfect season for her: “Watching the girls playing the FINAL4 last season, from the stands, that was not funny. I really want to go back there and play my part and help the team this time. And for all of us, the mission starts on Sunday.”