French handball team: the multiple heads of the blue hydra

The Blues are in the last four of the Handball World Cup. Yes, once more, once more. The eleventh since the beginning of the century, out of twelve editions of the competition, already won six times by the French. Their only absence dates back to ten years, in 2013 in Spain, where they lost in the quarter against the Croats (23-30). Healthy habit therefore, and performance not to be minimised. Because it was not written in advance, this scenario for the moment ideal punctuated by seven victories in as many matches.

The Blues have indeed started the World Cup with a formation decimated by injuries, and not the least. From left-back Timothey N’Guessan (broken hand) to winger Hugo Descat (knee surgery) to goalkeeper Wesley Pardin (ankle), seven players, the equivalent of an entire team, remained on the floor. And the ordeal began with two other leaders forced to wait on the bench: captain Luka Karabatic, struggling with back pain, and right-back Valentin Porte still embarrassed on the side of his thigh muscles.

The Thibaud Briet revelation

The Blues were certainly not the only ones to experience such a traffic jam in the infirmary, the infernal cadences imposed on the players remaining the fundamental problem that everyone sees without ever solving it. But it was still a lot to go on a campaign with high hearts, even if the ambition did not completely desert the French camp. In fact, they have adapted, these Blues, and even to the other bad surprises punctuating their career, from the muscle contracture in the abdominal muscles which deprived the star in the making Dika Mem of five games, to the contusion on the left foot of Nikola Karabatic which embarrasses still the valiant 38-year-old veteran.

It is so made, this French handball team, that if a head is missing, another comes out of the shadows opportunely. Thus Thibaud Briet, 23 years old, and a winning mind. The young Normand had taken advantage of the cascade of packages caused by the Covid-19 during Euro 2022 to discover the France group. He had obviously taken good bearings. In the first phase of the World Cup, the good giant – 2.05m, the tallest player in the history of the Blues – put himself forward, a revelation of the tournament in attack (third best blue scorer) as well as in defense where its versatility is invaluable. “Being a Swiss army knife is perfect for me”, laughs the guy. Out of its box like a handsome devil. “It’s one of the fastest arrivals in recent years”welcomes the coach of the Blues, Guillaume Gille.

In handball as in other collective disciplines, there are more and more young people in a hurry that the masters of playing no longer hesitate to throw into the deep end. “With the international successes of the Blues, a requirement for work has gradually imposed itself in the training centers and the hope centersexplains Daniel Costantini, coach of the national team from 1985 to 2001. Confidence too, and excellent players emerge from the twenties. Before, you had to wait much longer to bring them to the world level. »

The stratospheric performance of Rémi Desbonnet

Thibaud Briet is only the latest in a long series. But he too injured his hand, and he was not part of the party in the quarter-final against Germany on Wednesday January 25. The Blues struggled for almost forty minutes, before taking off to win (35-28). And in the case shone with a thousand lights the goalkeeper of the Blues. The usual owner, Vincent Gérard? What not. After eighteen minutes of figuration (no stoppage), the latter was replaced by the second doorman, Rémi Desbonnet. At 30, in blue for less than a year and completely unknown to the general public, the Montpellier player treated himself to a dream evening, discouraging the German gunners with a stratospheric performance (14 saves on 30 shots). A new head for the Blue Hydra.

Another must still grow: Elohim Prandi, who is struggling to show himself on this World Cup. At 24, back in blue after being stabbed in the streets of Paris before the Euro last year, the left-back of PSG does not have the performance he shows with his club. He still has to really free himself, and quickly if possible. Because it is the Swedes at home who come forward on Friday January 27. The same ones who banned the Blues from the 2021 World Cup final (26-32 defeat) and that of Euro 2022 (33-34). Forward for a new feat?


The Bruno Martini shock

At the announcement of the news, the Blues remained focused on their quarter-final the same evening, but it is an understatement to say that it stunned them: the former goalkeeper, double world champion Bruno Martini, president of the National Handball League (NHL), received a one-year suspended prison sentence and a €2,500 fine for “bribery of minors” and “recording of child pornography images”.

Under investigation since 2020 after the complaint of a 13-year-old, he had been placed in police custody two days earlier. The sanction was validated by the Paris court after appearance on prior admission of guilt. Even before the outcome, the leaders of the NHL, in connection with the French Handball Federation, had called Bruno Martini, 52, to resign. A general meeting to replace him is scheduled for March 7. The federation has also decided to open disciplinary proceedings against him.



Handball World Cup: France in the quarters after the victory of Spain against Slovenia

The France team has qualified for the quarter-finals of the World Handball Championship, even before its match on Friday January 20 (6:00 p.m.) against Iran in Krakow, thanks to Spain’s victory against Slovenia (31 -26).

The Blues (6 pts) can no longer be joined in one of the first two places in Group I of the main round either by Slovenia (4 pts) or by Montenegro (2 pts), which they will overtake in the event of a final tie after beating them.

The Blues will face the Iranians

The reigning Olympic champions dominated the Slovenians in the first round (35-31) and the Montenegrins on Wednesday (35-24).

They will face, after the modest Iranians, Spain (8 pts), also qualified, on Sunday with the challenge of first place in the group. It would allow them to face the second group III (Germany, Norway, Netherlands or Serbia) and not the first.

The quarter-final of the Blues is scheduled for Wednesday January 25, in Gdansk (Poland).



“Augmented” cameras at the 2024 Olympics

Allow the police to spot a movement of the crowd or an abandoned package as quickly as possible, but also a person whose behavior is considered abnormal (because they are running in the opposite direction from the crowd or have been immobile for a long time). These are some of the features enabled by the so-called augmented (or smart) cameras that should be placed in and around the stadiums during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

And even beyond: the bill which has just been adopted in committee and will be examined in public session in the Senate from January 24 plans to extend this experiment until the summer of 2025. The government considers that before taking stock of this device for exploiting images by artificial intelligence, it will be necessary to have tested it during other events deemed to be at risk for security (concerts, etc.).

Reinforcement of guarantees

Security: this is undoubtedly the heart of this text relating to the Olympic Games, whose 19 articles provide for a certain number of derogations and experiments.

The Senate Law Commission adopted the text on Wednesday January 18, but added several “precision amendments that strengthen safeguards”, as the rapporteur Agnès Canayer (LR) welcomed to Public Senate. The public should be informed “by any appropriate means” the use of these algorithmic tools… except when “this information would conflict with the objectives pursued”. Several LR amendments attempted to push video surveillance even further, by integrating facial recognition, for example, but they were deemed inadmissible.

Even experimental, the deployment of these augmented cameras constitutes a “turning” according to the CNIL (National Commission for Computing and Liberties). “It’s not just an extension of conventional video surveillance; it’s a change of nature”, insists Marie Duboys Fresney, lawyer at the Cnil. People are no longer just filmed but analyzed in an automated way, in real time, which represents a risk “on the exercise of freedoms in the public space”whether it is the freedom to come and go, to demonstrate or to gather. “We have been calling for a public debate on these new uses of video for years: what society do we want? »continues Marie Duboys Fresney.

Techniques already tested

Automated video surveillance has already been deployed on an experimental basis in several cities in France – “at least fifty”, according to the association for the defense of digital freedoms La quadrature du Net, which identifies them through its “Technopolice” initiative. Marseille, Nice, Valenciennes, but also the Isère village of Moirans… The association denounces public contracts concluded “in opacity” and “outside any legal framework” between these municipalities and private service providers.

In Vannes, the most video-surveilled city in Brittany, resident and lawyer Raphaël Balloul says he discovered the project to install two augmented cameras (one for pedestrians, the other for vehicles) after having peeled, in the fall 2021, administrative documents open to the public. “Even the municipal opposition was not aware”, says the one who filed an appeal to the administrative court of Rennes more than a year ago. The trial continues, and the municipality today denies having wanted to use these algorithmic devices.

A “strategy of the fait accompli”

“France will legalize these technologies even before the administrative justice has been able to rule on the various cases in progress”, denounces Félix Tréguer, member of La quadrature du Net in Marseille, where a dispute has been going on for two years. These activists castigate a “strategy of the fait accompli” and deplore that the parliamentary debate is taking place in the midst of pension reform.

The text will only be examined once (instead of twice) by the Senate and then the Assembly, the government having initiated the accelerated procedure. In its impact study, the executive specifies that it is ” essential ” to begin the experiment as soon as the law comes into force, i.e. several months before the Olympic Games, “in order to train the algorithms and have the most efficient tools possible during this large-scale event”.


The other provisions of the text

The 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games Bill provides for several deviations from the normal rules and some experimentation.

To fight against dopingnew analysis techniques will be authorized (examination of genetic characteristics or comparison of the genetic fingerprints of athletes).

In terms of securityin addition to the use of artificial intelligence in video surveillance, the use of body scanners will be possible at the entrance to stadiums and other sports venues hosting more than 300 people.

Moreover, shops will be able to open on Sunday in the cities that will host the sports competitions or in the neighboring cities, after agreement of the employees concerned.



Handball World Cup: France crushes Montenegro and gets closer to the quarters

The French handball team took a step towards the quarter-finals of the Men’s World Cup after starting the main round as it had finished the group stage: with a convincing victory on Wednesday January 18 against Montenegro (35-24 ) in Krakow.

The format of the competition, where the points of the first round (against the other qualified teams) are kept in the second, favors selections like France which have made a clear round.

The Olympic champions, winners of Poland (26-24) then Slovenia (35-31) during the first phase, took the lead in their group with six points, two more than Slovenia and Spain, who plays in the evening.

A game under control again

The first two are qualified for the quarters and the Blues should be, except surprise, one of these, with success in the two games to come, against the modest Iran Friday then Spain Sunday.

The road to Gdansk seems clear after a match that has been mastered again, like against the Slovenes, against the Montenegrins whose game is a little more stereotyped. They thus often forced the shots from the rear base, facilitating the work of Vincent Gérard, who also released some exceptional parades.

The goalkeeper made seven saves in the first twenty minutes to allow the Blues to widen a small gap (10-5, 19th), reduced to only three units at the break (16-13) after a less controlled end to the first period.

Melvyn Richardson, man of the match

Gerard started the second half with three saves. Including two penalties (3/3 in this exercise in the end). He finished with nearly 50% success (15/33). After two goals from left-back Elohim Prandi, author of a good start before experiencing more waste (two failures), Valentin Porte increased the lead to seven units twenty minutes from the end (23-16).

Besides Gérard, the man of the match on the French side was Melvyn Richardson. In the absence of Dika Mem, still injured in the abdominals, the son of the former “Barjot” Jackson Richardson, 1995 world champion, perfectly replaced the position of right-back Nedim Remili, much less successful than Monday against the Slovenians (2/5 and some bad pass choices).

After two failures in his first three shots, Richardson signed almost flawless (10 goals out of 13 attempts), especially on penalties (4/5) where he also replaced Kentin Mahé.



Handball World Cup: France beats Slovenia and opens the way to the quarters

The path is drawn. The French handball team opened the door to the quarter-finals of the Men’s World Cup after concluding the first round with a third victory in as many games on Monday against Slovenia (35-31) in Katowice (Poland). ).

The Blues, who already had their ticket for the main round before the match, will indeed approach it with a nest egg of four points, two more than the Slovenians. Two successes in the upcoming matches, starting on Wednesday, against Spain, Montenegro and Iran, should be enough to reach the quarter-finals.

The reigning Olympic champions therefore offered themselves a precious joker by finishing at the top of their pool in the first round, after a very solid match against the Slovenians which confirmed the victories against Poland (26-24) and Saudi Arabia (41-23).

Test passed with flying colors

This last meeting against Slovenia, which had showered Poland (32-23) in front of its public, represented a test, and the Blues passed it with flying colors. Even deprived of Dika Mem, their right back and key man, injured in the abdominals.

The FC Barcelona player, spared against the Saudis without the coaching specifying that he was injured, was replaced by Nedim Remili, who slipped from the position of center half successfully (7 goals out of 8 attempts).

In general, the entire rear base delivered a full performance: Kentin Mahé (7/12) animated well and scored a few goals which relieved his team. Including two to give him a six-point lead fifteen minutes from the end (28-22).

Good dose of confidence

The veteran Nikola Karabatic showed him that he was still in good shape at 38, notably author of a subtle lob (37th, 22-16), before experiencing a little more waste (4/8 in the end). His brother Luka, the captain, entered the competition after being spared, with a sore back, during the first two meetings.

With their centerpiece in defense, the Blues contained the Slovenes well, whose delay at the break (14-16) could have been greater without the five French temporary exclusions. Including two for Remili, and two in the last five minutes (Remili and Richardson).

Behind the tricolor wall, Vincent Gérard held the shop (11 stops) after having launched his two periods in the same way: by a penalty stopped (3rd and 32nd). France will leave for Krakow on Tuesday with a good dose of confidence.



America’s Cup: French attempts, from Baron Bich to K-Challenge

The French are making their comeback for the 37th edition of the America’s Cup in 2024, the K Challenge union announced on Tuesday 3 January. This sailing competition, which always takes place at the home of the previous winner (also called “defender” because he is defending his title), is preceded by the Louis Vuitton Cup. This allows you to designate the “challenger” who will face the defender.

The title is currently held by Emirates Team New Zealand, a New Zealand team. Tricolor crews have regularly participated in this sailing competition created in 1851, but none has ever won.

1970, the beginnings of Baron Bic

France enters the competition almost 120 years after its creation. A delay which can perhaps be explained because the country values ​​offshore and solo racing, like the Vendée Globe, more than regattas.

It was Baron Bich, founder of the Bic brand, who finally launched the first. He built for this 21st edition the sailboat France I, classified as a historic monument in 1992. Éric Tabarly is on board the ship, whose skippers are Louis Noverraz, “Popie” Delfour and Jean-Marie Le Guillou. He bows to the Gretel II Australians.

The “pope” of pens tried his luck again in 1974 with the same sailboat, helmed by Jean-Marie Le Guillou. He is harshly eliminated. In 1977, he built the France II. Slower, it was finally abandoned in favor of France I, again losing.

In 1980, for Marcel Bich’s last campaign, Bruno Troublé became skipper of a new aluminum sailboat, the France III. He manages to climb to the final of the challengers but is beaten by the Australian ship.

In 1983, the beginning of the post-Bich era

For the 1983 edition, the France III remains helmed by troubled Bruno. The sailboat has meanwhile been bought by Yves Rousset-Rouard, producer of the erotic film Emmanuelle, one of the biggest successes of French cinema (up to 50 million admissions worldwide, according to the Allociné site).

the France III is beaten by Australia II, future winner of the competition, which puts an end to 132 years of American invincibility. In 1987, the edition therefore took place outside the United States for the first time, in Western Australia.

The French ship, French Kiss, is led by Marc Pajot and financed by Serge Casnianski who owns a key duplicating company, Kis. The tricolor crew reached the semi-final of the challengers competition.

In 2000, the first America’s Cup without Americans

In 1992, the City of Paris, financed by the Breton industrialist Pierre Legris, manages to repeat this performance. It is led by Marc Pajot and Marc Bouët. In 1995, the French sailboat was called France 2 and it is financed by France Télévisions. It was once again Marc Pajot who helmed him, but the skipper was unable to repeat his previous performances and quickly found himself eliminated.

In 2000, Bouygues Telecom aligned the 6e Meaning, helmed by Bertrand Pacé. He manages to reach the semi-finals of the first America’s Cup not to count challenger neither defend American. It takes place in New Zealand.

With the abandonment of the nationality rule, Bertrand Pacé joins the New Zealand team, better financed. The French however align theAreva, backed by the energy giant. Her mast, which was too heavy, turned out to be inefficient, and the sailboat was eliminated before the semi-finals. The Swiss from Alinghi become the first Europeans to win the competition.

French absences from 2010

From 2007, boats competing must be built in the sponsor’s home country. For the second time in the history of the competition, after 1851 and the original race in England, the race takes place in Europe, off Valencia (Spain).

It is also the first time that the Cup has taken place outside the country of defendSwitzerland, which does not have access to the sea. The French boat, sponsored by K-Challenge and Areva, finished 6th in the Louis Vuitton Cup which decides between the challengers.

In 2010, for the first time since 1970, no French challenge took part in the competition. On the other hand, Thierry Fouchier wins aboard the challenger American. No tricolor crew will participate in the 34th edition either, in 2013.

The French however made their comeback, sponsored by Groupama, in 2017. They were eliminated before the semi-finals. “ We don’t finish as we would have liked, but we discovered the Cup, it’s addictive, launched skipper Franck Cammas at the time. The balance sheet is positive. We want to continue and maintain this momentum. » Waiting for 2023, after a last absence in 2021.



France-Morocco, the Champs-Élysées under high surveillance

France or Morocco? Whoever wins the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, December 14, fans can come sing or honk their horns on the Champs-Élysées. The Ministry of the Interior did not accede to the request of the town hall of 8e district of Paris, which wanted the closure of the famous artery from 8 p.m. But the capital will be placed under the surveillance of 2,200 police officers, 700 more than those mobilized on Saturday December 10 after the Morocco-Portugal and France-England matches.

A “visible and dissuasive” police presence

A total of 10,000 police and gendarmes will be mobilized throughout the country. At the National Assembly, Minister Gérald Darmanin indicated, on Tuesday, December 13, his desire “to frame these often family demonstrations of joy, in a context of terrorist threat”.

If the Champs-Élysées will remain open, “a large part of the ring road doors will no doubt be closed from 6:30 p.m.”as well as several metro and RER stations. “The police will ensure a visible and dissuasive presence to prevent dangerous behavior, acts of vandalism and aggression, in the immediate perimeter, but also more in depth on the surrounding axes”, specifies the Paris police headquarters.

Last Saturday, many people expressed their joy after Morocco’s victory against Portugal. In the vast majority of cases, these celebrations took place in a festive and peaceful spirit.

One hundred people arrested in Paris on Saturday

On the Champs-Élysées, where nearly 20,000 people had gathered, some tensions arose at the end of the evening. “Projectiles were thrown at the security forces, three two-wheeled vehicles were set on fire and a barricade was erected”indicated the prefecture, specifying that no “significant incident has not been reported”.

According to the Paris prosecutor’s office, one hundred people were arrested and eighty, including seventeen minors, were placed in police custody. In adults, thirty procedures were classified without follow-up. Elsewhere in France, seventy people were arrested (in police areas), mainly for throwing projectiles, insults or rebellion.

It is difficult to measure the proportion of Morocco supporters among the troublemakers. “A few may have been involved in incidents. But it is not these supporters who are to blame. As with every festive or protest demonstration, we actually see individuals taking advantage of the opportunity to attack the police, break street furniture or “do their shopping”, i.e. to rob isolated people. in the crowd “, indicates Frédéric Lagache, general delegate of the Alliance police union.

“With us, everyone behaves properly”

In Bordeaux, Kader Beya remains calm before this semi-final. This Franco-Moroccan manages the Crystal, a café in the city center which will welcome supporters of both teams. “We will install them in two different rooms. Moroccan supporters will be welcomed in a first room with a folk group. And a DJ will host the evening in the second scheduled for French supporters,” says the boss.

It was not the fear of incidents that led him to separate the fans of the two camps in this way. “We just wanted to create two different atmospheres to please everyone. With us, everyone behaves properly. For the quarter-final on Saturday, we received 200 to 250 people, including Portuguese supporters, and everything went well,” says Kader Beya.

The latter recognizes, however, that after the meeting, a few incidents took place in a nearby square. “Often, people who come to see a match with us then go out to party in this square, he adds. And we try to manage them. But on Saturday, we were a little overwhelmed by a very small minority of young people who were there to make a mess. We are the first to deplore this unacceptable behavior. »

If Morocco wins, its supporters gathered at the Crystal will stay in the establishment to celebrate the event. “Indeed, we do not want to be associated with any excesses that are not our fault, said Kader Beya. This match is a real party and must remain so. Whichever team goes to the final. »



Tour de France: departure from Florence in 2024, a first for Italy

The Tour de France will start from Italy in 2024 for the first time in its history. The departure will be from Florence for an 111th edition decidedly unlike the others with a final arrival in Nice, the organizers announced on Wednesday December 21.

“The Tour started from all the countries bordering France. He even left the Netherlands six times, which has no common border with France. But he has never left Italy yet. There is a kind of incongruity that will disappear”explains to AFP Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France who is in Italy until Friday to present this 26th Grand departure from abroad, the third consecutive after Copenhagen in 2022 and Bilbao in 2023.

In total, there will be three stages in Italy to launch the 2024 edition which, due to the Olympic Games in Paris, will end exceptionally in Nice with, as the organizers had already announced, a final individual time trial on the 21 July, five days before the start of the Olympics in the capital.

The first stage, on June 29, will connect Florence to Rimini – “a mid-mountain or even mountain stage with an elevation gain of 3,700 meters”, according to Prudhomme. The second, cut out for punchers, will start from Cesenatico and end on a final circuit in Bologna via Imola where Julian Alaphilippe won his first world championship title in 2020.

“Leaving abroad, I claim it”

The third, promised to the sprinters, will go from Plaisance to Turin. The fourth stage should also take off in Italy and then arrive in France.

“Leaving abroad, I not only assume it but I claim it. French security forces will be in huge demand in 2024, so a big departure from abroad can help”insists Prudhomme.

For the Tour, it is also an opportunity to celebrate Italian cycling, so rich, as 2024 marks the centenary of the first Italian victory in the Grand Boucle, that of Ottavio Bottecchia in 1924.



World Cup 2022: the Blues cheered by the crowd at Concorde, the Argentines expected in Buenos Aires

Unfortunate heroes of the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar, the players of the France team were cheered on by 50,000 supporters on Monday evening December 19. They gathered at Place de la Concorde in Paris, in an atmosphere of fervor, as Argentina prepared to celebrate the new world champions.

Arrived an hour and a half earlier at Paris airport, the players appeared around 8:30 p.m. GMT on the balcony of the Hôtel Crillon to the cheers of fans, mostly very young, who waved tricolor flags while chanting “Thank you Blues! » and singing The Marseillaise or Gala’s song Freed from Desirewhich became the anthem of the Blues during the World Cup.

50,000 attendees

The event took place in a friendly atmosphere. Police, who gave the number of 50,000 attendees, had not reported an incident as of Monday evening. Some had perched on lampposts or traffic lights, to try to see the Blues if only by a hair. The children, the luckiest, had found a perfect place on the shoulders of their parents. Others had chosen the Hotel de la Marine, across the street.

The Blues remained for a long time in front of their supporters who shouted their names, that of Kylian Mbappé being unsurprisingly the most heard, but those who hoped for a speech were disappointed. Before entering the palace, some of them had however reacted for television.

“Power to Commune”

“To be able to communicate even if there is no final victory. Vibrating together is something unique”, said Adrien Rabiot at the microphone of TF1, before entering the palace. Captain Hugo Lloris underlined his “pleasure to see so many people”. “I think the most important thing is recognition even if, as an athlete, we would have liked to bring back a gold medal, especially to bring this cup back to France again”said the goalkeeper, face closed, visibly marked by defeat.

The fans were thrilled to have seen their idols. “I had to be there, to thank our Blues for everything they have done so far”said Sandrine Djellas, 53, made up of red and blue, to the sound of fog horns which gave the place a football stadium atmosphere.

Kylian Mbappé, closed face

“Getting together here with everyone is my way of giving them strength”, smiles Cheick Touré, a 16-year-old high school student, keen on football, like his friends who came with him this evening to Place de la Concorde, which began to empty around 9:20 p.m. GMT. Smoke bombs and a few fireworks were fired in the middle of the crowd, but the atmosphere remained good-natured.

As they got off the plane, the coach of the Blues Didier Deschamps had sketched a smile, just like Olivier Giroud, who wore a necklace of blue-white-red flowers around his neck. But Kylian Mbappé, his face closed, had rushed into one of the buses parked on the tarmac before reaching the famous Parisian square.

The Argentines expected in the night

The Blues do not keep the trophy won in 2018 but can be proud of their career. Aware of the enthusiasm it aroused, they had decided, despite the cruel outcome, to commune with their fans, even if the president of the French Football Federation Noël Le Graët had first said the opposite on Monday morning.

The final, called to remain in the legend of football, was played on penalties (4-2) after a crazy scenario: a double from Lionel Messi, best player of the tournament, a hat-trick from Mbappé , top scorer in the competition, and unbreathable extra time (3-3). More than 24 million viewers followed the event on TF1, a “Historic Audience Record” for French television.

The Argentinians should arrive around 02:25 local time (05:25 GMT) at Ezeiza airport in Buenos Aires, where a small reception was planned, according to an airport source. It was unclear whether the reunion with the fans would take place the same evening with the more than one million Porteños who, until late at night, celebrated the title on Sunday.



Team sports: why is France so successful?

► It is the result of a system that is both public and associative

Emmanuelle Bonnet Oulaldj, co-president of the Sports and Gymnastics Federation of Labor (FSGT)

If we look closely at the results of recent years, France is world champion in team sports, at least in our sports, since there are sports that are not practiced in France. In all disciplines, it’s a bit the same recipes that work, thanks to the quality of the detection and training of young athletes.

It is difficult to distinguish one sport from another, but the French Handball Federation has succeeded in leading girls and boys to an Olympic gold medal, by putting the same means for women and men. .

We can also see in these successes the effects of the policy of high-level training that was put in place in the 1970s and 1980s. This has allowed part of French sport, in particular the collective disciplines, to build long-term strategies, which is essential. But the whole challenge for a sports federation is both to work on the next generation and to support the best, without putting anyone aside. I think it’s important not to cut high performance out of social practice. If we take the case of Great Britain, it certainly won a lot of medals at the London Games in 2012, but sport for all has not developed there.

Local authority support for small clubs

After the disappointing results of the Tokyo Olympics, the President of the Republic spoke of a form of privatization of the preparation of the next Olympics, saying that it is not public money that makes the results. I think, on the contrary, that if we privatize support for high performance, we will destroy this system which has worked and which is the result of a real public policy. It is a system that is both public and associative. Behind all this, there is an important issue: the support of local authorities for small clubs, which may be endangered with the increase in inflation and the fact that communities will have to refocus on their so-called “essential” expenses. “. Amateur sport risks suffering from this, while the base has already been abused during the Covid. Some volunteers never resumed their activities afterwards.

As far as football is concerned, it is obvious that the training system there produces excellent results. But it can also produce kids who will quit football early, because they aren’t deemed good enough. Before, many clubs had 2, 3 or 4 teams for these age categories, and there are fewer and fewer of them. This is precisely the role of my federation, to welcome all children. We really have to continue what has been done for the high level, but also support community life. Otherwise, we create inequalities.

► Generations rely on each other

Paoline Ekambi, former captain of the French basketball team (254 appearances), co-founder of Sportail Community

In France, I think we make a special effort to pass on the heritage of our sports, so that there is continuity between generations. We are part of a collective history where we follow in the wake of each other. As a handball spectator, I followed the exploits of the Barjots, the first French team to have won a world championship title in a collective sport, after which there were the Experts… In football, the generation of 1998 also was founding for the following champions, until the current team of France. It’s a long process.

For basketball, my generation (European vice-champion in 1993) represented the revival, passing from the semi-professional level to the professional level. Before us, the Demoiselles de Clermont were all amateurs. I was the second black player in the history of the France team. I was then part of the first promotions of sport-studies at Insep. Then, diversity has continued to enrich the range of talents. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, players from the former Soviet bloc, who dominated Europe, came to expand our championships. To the west, Italy and Spain were stronger. Then came Americans and players from sub-Saharan Africa, who brought a lot.

Early detection

At 14 and a half, I was discovered via the very first course reserved for large sizes. We were bigger players than our elders, and the girls who followed us gradually approached standards that could compete with the Americans. The same movement took place for the boys, with perhaps more media coverage, because the matches began to be broadcast on television on Canal+. Basketball owes a lot, for example, to presenter George Eddy, and to the exploits of the Dream Team.

I was the first Frenchwoman to play in the NCAA, the American university championship, but after me at the pivot position, there was Isabelle Fijalkowski, today a technical manager, and the first Frenchwoman to play in the WNBA. Clinics, which involved technical executives from the United States, have multiplied for the detection of talent.

Finally, all the expertise was added: physical and mental preparation, food hygiene… I think we should continue this momentum in the years to come. In Germany or the United States, sport and the world of school are one. In France, the mind and the body are still two things too often treated separately. It is indeed high time, even if we set ourselves the objective, to integrate sport into the development of the individual, and this from an early age.