|24 July 2014|
|Camille Cirgue arrived under the radar in Matosinhos but will certainly not be leaving in the same manner|
By Paul Nilsen
Camille Cirgue has slid onto the centre of the radar at the U18 European Championship Women and according to Les Bleues play-caller Arnaud Guppillotte, nobody deserves the limelight more.
The forward played at the same event in 2013 but rarely saw any court time. In contrast this time around, she has shown she can be a factor with some scintillating perimeter shooting and smart play.
Cirgue has already racked up her two biggest scores of her career in a national team vest - including 14 points against Serbia - which was the perfect birthday gift to her delighted coach.
"She is one of the hardest working players I have come across and she is the ultimate team player," declared Guppillotte.
"When she first arrived at the CFBB (Centre Federal de Basket Ball), Camille maybe had limited talent and physical attributes compared to some other players, but the way she has worked on her game is absolutely incredible.
"Her mentality is about work, work and even more work and she deserves to be recognised for this.
"She has now shown that she does have lots to offer on the court and is a smart player.
"Also, when she doesn't play minutes in a game it isn't a problem for her, because she is only focused on the times when she does actually play and she puts the good of the team and her colleagues first."
This is borne out by the words of Cirgue herself, whose unselfish approach and commitment to the cause is certainly impressive.
She didn't play any minutes in Vukovar last year during the semi-final or final en-route to a silver medal and yet still speaks with real enthusiasm and pride about the event.
"It was an exceptional human and sporting adventure," recalled Cirgue.
"I learned a lot during this tournament and my best memory was the semi-final game and of course all of those little moments along the way with the team, which eventually allowed us to win a medal."
Even when you talk to her about her work ethic, the teenager is reluctant to assume any credit.
"I think working hard is just part of my overall education and perhaps it's thanks to the coach that I have this," she insisted.
So does she now feel like she has moved out of the shadows a little and can now enjoy a starring role, rather than being a member of the supporting cast?
| Cirgue (#11) is just as content sitting on the bench as she is playing, if it is for the good of the team|
"Absolutely not," she declared.
"In this team, the star is the team itself and in each game, any girls of this team can be the leader."
Yes, it's easy to see why the Albi-born Cirgue is regarded so highly by her coaches and colleagues.
Her dedication and appetite for work is beautifully contrasted, or maybe that should be complimented, by her calm approach.
"I'm a simple person, I love life and I love my team-mates," she added with a smile.
"They give me the nickname Camomille."
Just like the tea itself, Cirgue has some significant qualities which are proving to be very beneficial to the overall health of her team.
Her first footsteps in the sport came around a decade ago.
"I chose basketball when I was seven years old because I actually had no choice," she explained.
"I was tall and all my friends practiced basketball."
Her pathway since those early days have clearly taken her to a situation where she is held in the highest regard by her coach and her peers.
But who does Cirgue herself admire?
"I really respect Endene Miyem - because we play in the same position and I really do like her game."
At almost the exact same time as Cirgue was feeling like she had no option but to pick up a ball, Miyem was winning a bronze medal at the 2005 edition of the U18 European Championship Women.
With one silver already to her name, Cirgue could add another to her collection during coming days as France head to the quarter-finals in Matosinhos.