The road to the Olympics in Paris is shorter than most for Simon Martin-Brisac. He is the Captain of Racing Club de France, which is situated on the outskirts of Paris. Next summer he will fulfil the dream of playing in a home Olympics.
His Brother, Father and Grandfather played for France and are the embodiment of a 'Hockey Family'. Around the club it is clear they are French hockey royalty.
Simon is set to exceed 150 caps for France by the time they take to the field and his experience will be invaluable as France pit themselves against the World's best.
Simon and his brother won the French Championship for the first time in 2015 meaning all three generations have been French champion.
How does it feel to have the Olympics in your hometown, Paris?
It's an indescribable feeling. In the real sense of the word. Yeah, it’s actually quite difficult to imagine it… Personally, I would perhaps believe it in 8 months at the time of the opening ceremony. It's all the more difficult to believe since for us - French hockey players - we haven't participated in the Olympics since 1972. I personally, experienced the failures of not being able to qualify with the national team for London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2021. Each time, we missed it for a match, sometimes even for a goal... These are the three worst memories of my hockey career; especially for Rio and Tokyo. So, participating in the Olympic Games, something which has eluded French hockey for 50 years and which represents the biggest failures in my hockey life, is difficult to explain.
And what's more, it's played in Paris in a stadium a few kilometers from where I was born. This stadium which has a long history with the Olympics, French sport and my club, Racing Club de France, because over the decades this stadium hosted rugby, football and hockey games of my club. And, after the Olympics, the facilities will be used by RCF. It makes the event even more special.
Why does hockey mean so much to your family?
Hockey is fundamentally what ties us together in our family. A few years ago, a journalist asked my sister the place that hockey had in our family and she had an answer, which is very beautiful and very fair on the importance of hockey in our family: "Hockey is a way of telling each other that they love each other between father and son, for lack of being able to say it to each other.” I think that sums it up.
Hockey is a means of expression for us. It’s a way to get together, to share. And still today, my grandfather comes to watch every of my match and those of my older brother (who plays now in the second team of the club) that take place in the Paris area. My father is still very involved in the club and is also present for every match. My sister, who no longer lives in Paris, and my mother, who is regularly on the move, come to watch the match when she can but always check in on the news.
That’s a real family story!
Does having such a prestigious hockey heritage give you extra pressure or inspiration to succeed?
I think a bit of both! My brother bought many tickets so that my whole family could come and see the French Hockey Team's matches this summer during the Olympics... I better be there !! It's a lot of pressure especially given the price of the ticket. But more seriously, I think that evolving in this environment was/is a real chance. Being supported by your loved ones in what you do, doing an activity that makes your family happy and proud, that is priceless and it gives all the motivation you need to go and train at any time, in any weather, when the mood is down.
We always want to make them proud and happy so we always train more. It’s a virtuous circle, especially since I never received the slightest pressure from my parents. They accompanied me, they supported me, they advised me, sometimes I got yelled at when I behaved badly when I was younger but it was for my good and I never took it as an unhealthy pressure. So we can say that I was lucky to have that environment to grow and develop, I’m still lucky that support and I really hope to give them back everything they gave me with the Olympics.