At five-foot-four, the midfielder from France plays an aggressive style that surprises opponents
Alice Grandpierre may be an aggressive Concordia Stingers midfielder today, but she didn’t always like soccer.
Grandpierre’s story starts in Chateau-Thierry, France, where she was born. Growing up in France, she was actually a gymnast and never played soccer. In fact, she said she disliked the sport and thought it was a waste of time.
However, when her father’s job forced her family to move to China when she was 14, Grandpierre had to give up gymnastics, as there was no team at her new school. In search of a new athletic activity, Grandpierre decided to give soccer a chance. This is when she fell in love with the game.
“I love the sport. It’s part of my life now,” she said. When it comes to watching soccer, though, she has a particular preference.
“I am more interested in watching women play soccer than men,” Grandpierre said. “For me, as a woman, it is more interesting to see them play.”
When Grandpierre started playing in China, her first coach saw her athleticism and put her in the midfield—an athletically demanding position. She played all four years of high school, excelling at midfield where she continues to play today.
When she got to Concordia, head coach Jorge Sanchez recognized that she belonged there. However, it took some time to get used to playing 11-a-side soccer with the Stingers, as she had only played seven-a-side in China. “It was hard, but I eventually got the hang of it because I worked for it,” Grandpierre said.
Her favourite thing about playing soccer is that it allows her to be aggressive towards her opponents.
“I love coming in hard for the tackles, and the others don’t expect it,” she said. “I just love playing hard on the other team. Midfield is where all the action is, so I enjoy playing it and being in the middle of the action.”
Measuring in at five-foot-four, Grandpierre is one of the shortest players on the team—but that doesn’t stop her from playing aggressively. She takes pride in the fact that she’s undersized on the field. Even her favourite player is small.
“My favourite player is Eugénie Le Sommer, mainly because she kind of has the same physique as me,” Grandpierre said. Le Sommer is a striker who also stands at five-foot-four. She plays for Olympique Lyon in France, as well as for France’s national team.
Playing in her fourth year with the Stingers, Grandpierre is currently the longest-serving player on the women’s team. She also occasionally wears the captain’s armband during games. She said she is excited to have a leadership role again this season and to help mentor the younger players.
“I’m part of this leadership group. I find I lead mainly on my play,” Grandpierre said.
The French midfielder moved to Montreal to study exercise science and play soccer, but has since fallen in love with the city. She said she enjoys the fact that she can speak both French and English in Montreal and be understood in both languages. She also speaks a little bit of Spanish and picked up some Mandarin during her time in China.
Her knowledge of Montreal has allowed her to be a residence assistant at Concordia and guide new university students through the ins and outs of the city. Last season, as a seasoned veteran on the soccer team, Grandpierre was assigned to live with two rookies and to mentor them on life in Montreal. As she has gone through the pressures of being on a new team and adjusting to life in a new city, she said she helped the two players cope with the challenges of both soccer and school.
Grandpierre’s time at Concordia was spent studying with the hope of becoming a physiotherapist. Now, in her final year at Concordia, Grandpierre said she isn’t entirely sure what the next step in her journey will be. She is hoping to go to osteopathy school in order to become a physiotherapist.
“I want to be able to help athletes rehab from their injuries,” Grandpierre said. However, she knows that soccer will remain part of her life even after school.
“I’m not really sure where I’ll be playing soccer after this year, but I know I want to continue afterwards,” she said. “Soccer has become an everyday part of my life, and I don’t want it to change.”
Main photo by Alex Hutchins