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FEATURE | The story of Oscar Ewolo – the footballer turned pastor who is giving FC Lorient the guidance ahead of their relegation showdown

Several players from the Morbihan club in the last few months have been reaching out to the former defensive midfielder – who is now a pastor.

While the Lord moves in mysterious ways, efforts to ensure FC Lorient stay in Ligue 1 – in 18th and currently in the relegation play-offs vs ESTAC Troyes and if you want to check out odds for this tie then take a look at these football betting apps, which seek to provide you with the best offers with free bets, enhanced odds, live streaming and in-play action, as well as the ability to cash-out – could be helped along by an external intervention from on high….

Stadiums are sometimes compared to temples or cathedrals but Oscar Ewolo often goes out to actual protestant churches that he himself has established (called the Centres Chrétiens Christ Refuge Pour Tous). The former captain of the Congo national team came to Lorient, getting a taste of Ligue 1 football (2005-2009) before joining Brest (in Ligue 2). And from 2010, it was here that he became a pastor. Nowadays, in the north-west city renowned for its five ports, he welcomes in his faithful followers, preaches to them and puts on gospel singing.

Aside from this, he meets and has regular discussions with several Les Merlus players who are playing out their survival in Ligue 1, this evening, against Bordeaux. “I knew Michaël Ciani from my time here,” says the pastor, 38 years old. “I’m on the phone to him before matches, just like with Paul Delecroix et Romain Philippoteaux.” 

Romain admits that his stuttering faith has been enriched: “I’ve been visiting him for a few months now and he has done so much for me,” says the forward who came across him through the intermediary of Lindsay Rose, loaned to Bastia during the (winter) break, and former teammate of Ewolo at Laval (in Ligue 2, 2013-2013). “He always has positive and nourishing words to say. We have a real bond. We pray, it goes without saying that we talk about religion but also about general life. If we don’t end up travelling to meet each other, we can use FaceTime.”

“It’s true that our results have picked up since we’ve seen him.”

An example of when religion can make itself felt in the modern world. And its influence on Lorient’s (latest) results? The pastor is convinced of it, having come to the rescue of Brest, and to their coach Alex Dupont, to enable them to stay in Ligue 2, at the end of the 2013-2014 season. “Upon my arrival, the results improved,” affirms Ewolo.

“You can’t just put it down to luck. There were a couple of messages from the coach and from me; I was just getting across core values, not necessarily those which are religious, but universal ones. And at Lorient, even if there were more individual actions to take, it’s the same thing. I’ve been more involved since the Paris match (1-2, 12th March) and results have improved. It’s not luck. I am now convinced that they are going to beat the drop.”

When these comments are put to Romain, he smiles, and he wants to believe it, but also acknowledges the precarious position Lorient are in. “We are not saved yet. First and foremost, Oscar doesn’t let our heads drop; he’s always saying positive things to us. It’s true that our results have picked up since we’ve seen him. But remember…we can’t redo games, it’s up to us to turn up and perform, individually.”

Oscar Ewolo is not designated as one of Bernard Casoni’s assistants, though one of whom, Benjamin Genton, was a former FC Lorient teammate who used to pray with him. At that time, players like André-Pierre Gignac and Nicolas Marin were open with their beliefs with the future pastor.

Today, Mr Genton is rarely at Lorient’s Stade du Moustoir seeing that he has a lot on his plate in his new capacity as second assistant coach. But he does not forget that football and religion have shaped the man that he has become, stating that: “In faith, there are values that you find in football, particularly the ability to keep going no matter what.” A sentence which could carry some real weight for the Lorientais on their Way (of the Cross) to survival.



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