The Colorado Springs Gazette

Rigal brothers from France find a home with Pine Creek soccer.

GAZETTE PREPS BOYS SOCCER Rigal brothers, from France, enjoy the stark differences playing for Pine Creek


Thanks to soccer, Mattéo Rigal was able to find a community while spending three years far away from home.

“Sports in high school – we don’t have that in France,” said Rigal, a Pine Creek senior, who along with his brother, freshman Timéo, have been in the United States since 2021 as their father works as a liaison with the United States Space Command.

“So that’s really interesting to play for the school, play for something, you don’t just play for a club. So that’s different. Everyone is behind you.”

There were other contrasts that stood out more quickly when Mattéo and Timéo first joined their father, Laurent, when his position within the French Ministère des Armées brought him to Colorado Springs on a three-year contract.

“Everything is bigger here,” Mattéo said, recalling his first impression. “The cars, the roads, the schools, everything.”

Fast forward to the present and the final year of Laurent’s contract. The Rigals miss their family and the French cuisine, but much has changed. The two boys who didn’t speak English prior to their arrival are now fluent, they have lived through a different perspective, and have bonded inextricably with the Pine Creek community.

“The teachers even ask you the results,” Mattéo said. “So, you feel important actually, and I think that’s a good thing that you guys have that here in America.”

The Eagles (5-2-1) have won four of their past five matches. Pine Creek was 8-7-2 last year.

Mattéo, who was in the top three in goals scored a season ago, is back at it again with two scores on the year – third-most on the team – and two assists.

While Timéo is playing his first varsity minutes now, Mattéo has been a key piece of the Pine Creek team for years and his teammates have nothing but praise for who he is on and off the field.

“Mattéo gives us something special that not every team has because he’s just so technical with his footwork,” senior keeper Connor Shaw said. He just gives us that one play where we need to beat three guys out of pressure. He’s the guy that can do that.”

“He’s occasionally that one piece that can unlock a team,” senior Quinn Howell said.

The love the brothers receive from their Pine Creek teammates is mutual and a far cry from what the Rigals experienced in France, where the game is more strict and competitive.

“Our last club before we left there were seven teams of each category of age. I was competitive with everyone,” Mattéo said. “You were not friends with the people. You didn’t need to talk because everyone knew what you had to do. So you were not talking, people were always at the right position at the right moment. And, actually, that worked for a year; we didn’t lose a single game.”

Despite Mattéo’s experience with American soccer being less instinctual to a degree, the increased communication is a welcome change for the Rigals.

“The teammates here are really, really nice to us. Even if (we don’t understand everything) they let us talk in the group, let us give our opinion about the game that we

did, the training that we did,” Timéo said. “So I found this really nice because in France, it’s always the coach or the captain that really…gives the information.”

Off the pitch, the boys have a demanding schedule, having to fulfill requirements for both American and French educations.

Timéo described a typical day as going to school, then practice and then doing French studies afterward.

The dueling curriculums has created a bit of a conundrum for Mattéo who is considered a French student to American officials and an American to French officials.

As a solution, he hopes to attend a Canadian school, which he said recognizes both his American and French education. He hopes to continue playing soccer there as well.

Before then however, the Rigals would like to end their time at Pine Creek on a high note. Mattéo would obviously like to win a state title with the Eagles, but the first step will be winning the 5A Colorado Springs Metro League.

But beyond the quest for league and state championships or any stats on the field is the quest for learning through perspective.

“The mentality, that is different,” Laurent said. “It’s not that the mentality in the U.S. is better than in Europe, but it’s different so it will give them some kind of comprehensive view on the world which is very important.”





The Gazette, Colorado Springs