Ilias: Engineering Student and High-level Athlete

Mixing engineering studies and high-level athletic activities is not always easy. Even if ECAM Lyon doesn’t offer a specific program for high-level athletes, the School tries to adapt class schedules for “exceptional” students such as Ilias Tahar a third year engineering student and football referee who is only 20 years old.

Where does your passion for refereeing come from?

I started playing football as a goalie when I was little. I’ve been refereeing for the French Football Federation (FFF) for six years. Currently, I referee for the national junior league U19 (the highest league for youth). In other words I referee the future stars who will play in the highest league, Ligue 1, such as when I refereed a game with Mbappé two years ago. I just learned that I will be refereeing a big derby game between AS Nancy Lorraine and RC Strasbourg, two training centers for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. In the short-term, I hope to referee for the National 3 league (the 5th division after Ligue 1). What I like about refereeing is managing players, personalities, and the physical preparation. It goes hand in hand with a career in engineering.

Why did you choose ECAM Lyon?

After doing preparatory classes in Montpellier, I enrolled in the Arts et Métiers program at ECAM Lyon. The general aspect, with a focus on mechanical engineering, was something that I liked from the beginning. I also knew that the School has an excellent alumni network, which makes finding a job easy after graduating. Being able to combine high-level athletic activities and my studies was a determining factor in choosing ECAM Lyon.

How do you manage your schedule?

For football, I work every day between one and two hours, studying theory and writing reports to develop my knowledge. I also train three times a week and see a physiotherapist two times a week. On the weekends, I’ll referee almost anywhere in France.

For my studies, I was lucky to receive special arrangements for my schedule for weekend games. I appreciate the flexibility at EACM Lyon. I try to make as much use of my time to study such as when I’m travelling or in a hotel.

Where do you see yourself later on?

My goal is to get my engineering degree, and rise in the levels to referee for the Ligue 1 or even internationally. As an engineer, I would like to work in aeronautical design.

“To balance engineering studies and high-level athletic activities, there’s only one rule: organization for motivation. My motto, “when you want it, you can do it.”