Spotlight: Rodrigue Aligenes speaks about his background and future projects

Interview transcription

Introduce yourself in a few words

Rodrigue Aligenes, former professional and international American football player and co-founder of Sport Combine.

Tell us about your background

I started playing American football at the age of 17 at Les Corsaires d’Evry. Then, I was recruited to go to Cégep de Thetford at the age of 18, where I completed 3 seasons and I was recruited by the University of Sherbrooke at the age of 21. I came back to France at the age of 24 where I joined the club of Thonon-les-Bains the Black Panther which marked the beginning of my semi-professional career. In 2015, I had an opportunity to play in Serbia where I signed my first pro contract to be paid to be an outfield player. And at the age of 28, 27, sorry, I joined the team of Breslau in Poland.

What motivated you to start playing american football?

I was looking for a team sport and a physical sport where your decisions directly impact your teammates so good or bad decision. And the fact that I am someone who really advocates self-sacrifice, that’s the sport that was made for me. Moreover, I discovered this sport and I liked it thanks to my older cousin who did it for a few years.

Which moment in your career so far has made you the proudest, and why ?

I would say the year we became European champions with the Black Panther of Thonon-Les-Bains, so we beat the Rinos of Milan in 2017. A score that was very tight and why I am so proud of it , is that having the crown of Europe, I think it’s something big.

What where the main challenges you encountered in your career and how did you overcome them?

in terms of challenge, I see 2 big ones. The first one for me is injuries. Injuries are really the thorny point in an athlete’s career. You never know in what state of form you will return after an injury. How to overcome this challenge? it is for me a big part which is mental so to be accompanied mentally family, partner, friends. And the physical will follow, as long as the motivation and the determination are there the physical will follow.

The second big point for me is the post-sporting career. When you see your friends continue to play every weekend, we think we could be with them. So here it is, it’s a decision that is ours but it’s still very complicated to handle. How to overcome this? It’s finding a new challenge to be able to transcribe what you learn in sport into professional life or everyday life and continue to move forward by achieving all these objectives.

What motivates you to push your limits and constantly improve?

So during my career it was simply wanting to be the best on the pitch. So it’s a philosophy that was instilled in me by all the coaches I had, American as well as European. So it’s really about giving your all, being the element that people are afraid of on the pitch. After my career, it’s just as similar, so being the best element in the professional world. Say to yourself that they need you and to be able to bring really big to the table.

What advice would you give to young people who want to succeed?

It’s simple, invest in yourself, believe in what you do. Set yourself goals. Find yourself an example someone as a mentor. Someone that you will be able to follow by his motivation and his determination and you must never give up. Do more to reach the level you want to have.

What values or qualities are essential for success?

I am thinking of rigor and determination, these are really two essential points for development and success, quite simply.

What is your vision for the development of american football in the coming years?

It’s a good question. With the arrival of the ELF in Europe, the French American Football Federation must not slow down its development. It’s still very important, we have a lot of sections of young players that we have to look at and that we really need to develop. So afterwards, it’s a story of the federation’s investment in young people. Everything will happen with the young players.

What are your future projects or goals?

As you know, I’m the co-founder of the Sport Combine platform, where talent meets opportunity. We are here to give visibility to young and experienced players, as well as to veterans so that they can have the opportunity to develop their level and develop their knowledge of football which for me is very important. And to be able to travel abroad and live experiences that they would not have been able to live without having access to our platform.

Your ultimate top 5 in american football (french players)

Ultimate top 5… so… I will take Thierry Constant as a Corner of course, Laurent Marceline as a Running Back, Sébastien Sejean as Free Safety. I will still keep a very good eye on Stephen Yepmo as a Running Back. And the last one I don’t know, it’s really hard ! It’s hard, it’s really hard… I think of Samyr Hamoudi even if I am not for the Flash, Samyr Hamoudi why not.

Which rule would you change in american football?

I will remove the Unnecessary Roughness because as a former defender, we like the show, we like when it hits. Indeed these are rules that are there to protect the players. But now, we are obliged to go and tackle gently. We can no longer go into blind spots. It’s a little complicated. We understand the Offense, they like to protect themselves.

Which sports personality would you like to have dinner with?

Like that I would say Mike Tyson. We all know his background. Multiple knockouts all over the place. I’d love to see the most dangerous man in the world lisp, just like that.

which athlete or coach impresses you the most today?

I’m thinking, I’m thinking, I’m thinking… So I’ll say Nick Saban from the University of Alabama. He is helding the walls for quite a few years, he has revolutionized all the defenses of the NCAA because people are simply inspired by the best. Yeah, respect.

A final word?

You have to do things without regret. You need to go forward. You always have to look straight ahead, always far far far ahead and you just have to never never ever stop. You have to be a hard worker.

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