Team sports are taking over the field of soft practices

The affair, for a long time, was heard. To get back to sport late in the day, or simply to talk without hurting your body too much, you didn’t have to look very far: focus on gentle disciplines, from Nordic walking to water aerobics, including yoga or all the sports. variants of indoor fitness. Sometimes group exercises, of course, but individual practices, always.

→ EXPLANATION. Covid-19: how to safely resume indoor sport?

This movement, accelerated by the multiple campaigns on “healthy sport”, the collective disciplines do not intend to let it pass. Even if the approach is not obvious at the start, because competition is not the alpha and omega of the practice; and that it is a question of addressing an audience of seniors, rather neglected until then.

Finally offer offers to seniors

Take football, for example. The story was played out at the end of 2017, in the Orne. On the side of Alençon more exactly, where Yannick Rouault then takes care of the football section at the Sports and Gymnastics Federation of Labor (FSGT). He has just discovered “walking football” in England, a football by walking which appeals to the over-50s across the Channel, with more than 1,000 clubs across the country. Prohibited from running, dribbling on obviously smaller grounds, in teams of five, trying to keep the ball as much as possible on the ground, the game seems ideal to this sixty-year-old who manages to organize a first meeting in June 2018.

“Other poles developed at the same time at the FSGT, in particular in Marseille and in Brittany, says Yannick Rouault. The advantage is that walking football also makes it possible to easily integrate disabled people and to develop co-education. In my club, out of about thirty members, there are five women. It’s very friendly, fun, it is aimed at people who have never played like former footballers who could no longer express themselves in a club. It remains to promote the discipline, to see the numbers swell. “

The FSGT does with its means, which are obviously not those of the French Football Federation (FFF). The latter has finally turned to this football while walking, which she looked down on when she first started out. “We realized that while we were very dynamic in our offers for people under 18, we were far behind seniors compared to other European countries., recognizes Patrick Pion, deputy national technical director of the FFF. We therefore offer several practices such as golf football (in which we replace the golf ball with a ball, editor’s note) and football while walking, which are a priority for us. We are going to distribute educational materials, train educators, because there are still only about a hundred clubs. “

Skills to look for

A certain enthusiasm, but still limited compared to the potential: this is the conviction of Chrystel Bernou, this time at the French Volleyball Federation, with the “soft volley” that she has been promoting for four years. A volley that this technical framework went to seek in Japan where the practice is paradoxically very oriented towards competition. For France, with this volleyball in teams of four, on a smaller field, a net only 2 m high, and a larger and softer ball, Chrystel Bernou wants to address seniors first. “Because, like the other federations, we still have a shortage of offers for the over 40s”.

As often, to adopt a gentle practice, you just have to test it. “Soft volley”, like certain adapted basketball formulas, is gaining supporters. “In the clubs where it takes, it takes very hard with very quickly dozens of participants”, says Chrystel Bernou. Which also raises limits. “Everything happens at the same time in the clubs: leisure sport, health sport, parasport, etc. It’s complicated to find niches in gyms to bring all these activities to life, with competent people to lead them. “

→ READ ALSO. Sport and health now has its reference dictionary

Attracting more seniors can however be a means of integrating into clubs a population capable of becoming involved as volunteers, or even as leaders. This is an issue that Patrick Pion takes into account at the FFF: “There is a reserve of skills there that we can use to found the club of tomorrow: a club really open to the whole family, where everyone can contribute to make a place of total life. “


Touch rugby, contactless rugby

Seniors are not necessarily the priority audience of the National Touch Rugby Federation, born in 2001 by importing this rugby of Australian origin which is played without veneer and without scrum. Because this avoidance game, of which the premier category is mixed, remains very demanding for its practitioners (2,000 in around 70 clubs). Nevertheless: in a context where the bad contacts of the traditional XV have more and more tendency to frighten, “We also have quadras and fifties in our clubs who can thus keep in contact with the oval”, underlines Thibault Zettel, federal responsible for development, who does not however speak of “soft practice”. The latter regrets the lack of exchanges with the French Rugby Federation, which is focused on a fairly similar variant, V-rugby, a French exception.



Volleyball can finally capitalize on the Olympic effect

Barely time to breathe and here they are, putting their very recent supremacy back into play. The Blues of volleyball hung gold around their necks in Tokyo, but impossible to fall asleep on these Olympic laurels: since last week, they are on the track for the European title. For now, after three first games, the Blues live up to their brand new reputation. May the great adventure continue is all that France hopes for from volleyball. In the clubs, we are betting on the famous “Olympic effect” which basketball and handball have already benefited from in the past.

“The feedback that has come to us from the field over the past two weeks shows a strong increase in applications for licenses among young people, rejoices Éric Tanguy, the president of the French Volleyball Federation. Even the multisport federations that offer volleyball feel a new craze for the discipline. “

President of the Rhône committee and in charge of development at the FFVolley, Michelle Akilian applauds this new impetus, but also knows that long-term work is ahead: “After a good Games, attracting kids, everyone knows how to do it, explains the leader. But it’s more difficult to keep them afterwards. “

A very unique context

This is what is at stake for a federation confronted for the first time with this “Happiness to be champion” evoked with a huge smile Jérôme Heilmann, president for seven years for the destinies of ASVB Yutz-Thionville, Moselle training club. “The Olympics effect is especially important in terms of image: the performance of the France team is finally obvious. Afterwards, on the reception of the licensees, it will be necessary to be good, because this year, we are not the only ones to have triumphed at the Games. “

→ ANALYSIS. At the Tokyo Olympics, France shines as a collective

The success of almost all team sports in Tokyo, “It is also a risk of scrambling to obtain time slots in the gymnasiums”, emphasizes Michelle Akilian. All in a very specific context: the prospect of Paris 2024 pushes to increase development actions, but the health crisis can slow down the enthusiasm. From September 30, young people over 12 years old must present the health pass to practice in a club.

“The subject is more the management of controls than a risk of seeing many licensees escape us because of this requirement,” nuance Valentin Delalande, president of Cholet Volley resulting last July from the merger of two former local clubs. Moreover, for most parents, this health pass is even rather reassuring, ensuring a less risky practice. So we adapt. This is one of the lessons of this Covid period: it forces us to change, to think about new practices. Our decision to merge has been accelerated, and we hope to increase from 130 to 250 redundants in the next five years. “

Multiply innovative practices

In the clubs, which on average lost 20% of their troops with the health crisis, the Olympic form of volleyball is the perfect opportunity to bounce back. “We try a lot of things, for example with us a project to welcome children from 18 months, highlights Jérôme Heilmann. This helps develop motor skills, and maybe tackle volleyball lessons from 8 years old rather than waiting 12 or 13 years like today and involving parents who can become volunteers or future leaders. “

Paris 2024 also requires increasing numbers to be on time. The FFVolley is therefore struggling to develop sitting volleyball. A challenge, because the ministerial delegation did not fall until 2017, the Handisport Federation previously managing the case. “We started from zero, and it is quite difficult to find athletes, especially among women, to present competitive teams in 2024”, recognizes Éric Tanguy.

→ INVESTIGATION. Volleyball seeks a new economic model

The clubs, in any case, are mobilized on all floors. Example in the Toulouse suburbs, at the Grenade Volley Ball, 130 licensees. Educator Laurent Cassi is pushing seated volleyball by betting on the promotion provided by broadcasts during the Paralympics. “The practice can be mixed, with able-bodied, and it’s great, assures the technician. It is on this diversity that we must bet. Also with the beach, in vogue, because the Covid pushes us to rediscover the outdoors. Or fit volleyball, a mixture of games and muscle and cardiac strengthening exercises to gently resume a sporting activity. We can do anything under the net. “


A Euro well underway

Appetite comes with eating ? The France team has eaten this Olympic gold that it has been waiting for so long, but which is not enough to satiate it. The desire to devour everything is there for this Euro 2021 started by the Blues on September 3, and which for the moment confirms the conquering momentum.

The men of the new Brazilian coach Bernardinho – who won everything with the national women’s and men’s teams in his country – made short work of the start of Slovakia (3-0), then continued the banquet against Croatia (3-0). Facing Germany, Monday, September 6, the Blues had to work to beat the toughest opponent in their group (3-1). But they can calmly consider their qualification in the round of 16 (from September 11) before ending the knockout phase against Latvia, this Wednesday, September 8, and Estonia the next day.



Tokyo Olympics: the Blues of volleyball, finally an Olympic title in their net

But who are they, these volleyball Blues who for ages have come out of incredible matches, play their competitions on the edge of the precipice, offer a farandole of contrary emotions? They have just planted the last point that gives them the Olympic title in Tokyo, this Saturday, August 7 after a fifth set on a volcano against the Russians, and it is one of the members of the young tricolor guard, Jean Patry, who ends up finding the words at the microphone of France Televisions by evoking “This team of mad people, crazy people, this big family! “.

→ FIND our file on the Tokyo Olympics

And these words really are not overused, because these twelve guys, their trainer Laurent Tillie and all the management, who for years have been pursuing a Grail that has long been inaccessible, form an incredible collective, with close links forged over time. , pitfalls and postponed games. This team is a bunch of friends, on and off the field, and this dimension is not for nothing in this accomplishment, this finally golden trip to Japan.

Forget the disappointment of Rio

They come from afar, these Blues, from nowhere even when, in 2012, Laurent Tillie agrees to take their destiny in hand. The former player, receiver and striker of a French team who had tasted his first Games in 1988 and 1992 (8th and 11th place then), must rebuild everything, put in the direction of the market a group which gradually lost since the bronze at the Worlds of 2002. Laurent Tillie will succeed in three years to give a soul to the Tricolores, and the transcended Blues will even succeed in 2015 on a cloud: European champions and winners of the World League.

→ READ The French handball team achieves a historic Olympic treble

A standing finally regained, but undoubtedly they saw themselves too beautiful these Blues inflated at the time of approaching Rio. The disappointment of a 9th place finish and a missed tournament was to weigh on their shoulders, and their results became a roller coaster. It was necessary to grow a little more, to solidify this common base. The four years since Rio have served this purpose: to unite, to further cement the friendships between the thirty-something Earvin Ngapeth or Jenia Grebennikov and the twenty-something Jean Patry or Barthélémy Chinenyeze.

A great reward for coach Laurent Tillie

Today they know each other by heart, and undoubtedly on the field are they the only ones to understand what they play. Their Olympic tournament is once again a great mystery, with a failed start, a rebound in the group stage with their backs to the wall, already against the Russians beaten for the first time (3 sets to 1), an exceptional quarter-final against the Poles at the end of an insane match (3 sets to 2), and a final started on the hats of wheels (2 sets 0), before a slack and an unexpected flashback in extremis.

For Laurent Tillie, it is the ultimate reward after a long quest, he who had decided to finish whatever happens his mission at the head of the Blues in Tokyo. “I have been running after these dreams for forty years, he blurted out before the final. It’s a great story, because it’s a little improbable to dream of playing an Olympic final at the end of the cycle ”.

Winning the title is an even more breathtaking finale. French volleyball, which has always assumed the role of the ugly duckling of French collective sport, without a shadow of a medal on its record, can now raise its head. Olympic Champions: These crazy people deserve it.

→ READ ALSO At the Tokyo Olympics, France shines as a collective



At the Tokyo Olympics, France shines as a collective

It is an unexpected equation that the presidents of the French basketball, handball and volleyball federations tried to solve on Wednesday August 4. “We wondered how we were going to do if all the teams had to come home on Monday, with a medal, laughs the president of the handball federation, Philippe Bana. Because there will be no more room on the plane! Puzzle of the privileged.

→ EDITORIAL. “Together” at the Tokyo Olympics

Four hours after this meeting, France confirmed a full historical record: the French basketball players joined the men’s hand, volleyball and basketball teams, also qualifying for the last four. And thus prolonging their stay in Tokyo until the end of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, this weekend.

“The Olympics have become a Holy Grail for our handball players”

In the empty enclosure of the Yoyogi gymnasium, in the heart of the Shibuya district in Tokyo, Wednesday, August 4, the Blue handball have mastered the game against the Dutch, reigning world champions (32-22). Relentless. They will face Sweden on Friday at 10 a.m. (French time).

→ ANALYSIS. Medals at the Tokyo Olympics: the French women at the rendezvous, not the men

If the stands were empty, the players got into the clothes of their own supporters, never ceasing to encourage and applaud each other from the bench and on the field. And to exult at the final whistle: “We are in semis, we are in semis! “

“The opponent is very, very good, it’s a team that is able to go to the end”, can only recognize the French coach of the Netherlands, Emmanuel Mayonnade. “Over time, the French handball clock has set to Olympic time, rejoices Philippe Bana. The Olympics have become a Holy Grail for our handball players, which is not the case in all sports. We manage to transmit this trademark. Each team is made up of three thirds: the rookies (young people), the middle class (who have already done international competitions) and the tauliers, responsible for ensuring the transmission. “

Communicative joy

Like a wink from fate, thirty kilometers further north, the tricolor basketball players were also scrapping for a place in the semi-finals. They won on the wire against Spain (67-64). They will face Japan on Friday at 1 p.m. and will be keen to do better than in Rio (4e) and in London (2e).

“Going to the hall, we saw the basketball players also leave. We said to each other: ‘go sports co’, we are all going to the semi-finals togethere“”, smiles handball player Laura Flippes, after the match. Deal. “We’re super happy for team sports. We watch them play, we try to learn from their strength! “, continues her teammate Méline Nocandy.

Among the men of “BHV” (basketball, hand, volleyball), the places in the semi-finals were already assured since Tuesday evening. The three meetings will take place on Thursday August 5th. Some were expected in the last square. The Blues of handball have mastered their course from start to finish and outclassed Bahrain in the quarterfinals (42-28). Six times world champions, the Habs are on a series of three consecutive Olympic finals: silver in Rio, gold in London and Beijing. They face Egypt at 10 a.m.

“The match of a career”

Others are coming back to life after two decades of Olympic scarcity. The French basketball players, led by captain Nicolas Batum, started their competition with a bang, with a victory against the United States in pools and defeated Italy on Tuesday August 3rd. They face Slovenia at 1 p.m. for a place in the final. “It’s the match of a career”, warned coach Vincent Collet.

→ READ. Tokyo Olympics: in search of new challenges, French coaches export their know-how

French volleyball players, who are themselves, by their own admission, “Survivors”, took their place by forceps, reaching the finals for the first time in five appearances. After a failed start to the tournament, they overthrew the two-time world champion Poland. They meet Argentina at 2 p.m. Thursday August 5 and do not plan to stop there.

The collective responds

“An alignment of the planets” for team sports, summarizes Philippe Bana. And so many chances of medals for a France behind on its previous Olympic record. Because when the individual trajectories of Teddy Riner, Mélina Robert-Michon, Renaud Lavillenie or even Alexandra Tavernier shatter, the collective responds very much.

Mixed team judo and triathlon, team fencing, women’s rugby sevens… Eight of France’s twenty-five medals were gleaned by teams. Among team sports, only football disappointed, eliminated in qualifying. “Faster, higher, stronger, together”, says the new Olympic motto. The French apply it to the letter.


The consistency of technicians

A common point in this French “Big Five” qualified in the last four? Perhaps we should look for it on the side of the experience of the coaches. Four of them have been in this post for a long time. Valérie Garnier has been working with French basketball players since 2013, Vincent Collet has been accompanying their male counterparts since 2009. In volleyball, Laurent Tillie has been officiating since 2012. In hand, Olivier Krumbholz has been coaching Les Bleues since 1998, with a hiatus from 2013 to 2016. Guillaume Gille is meanwhile arrived in 2020 to coach the men’s team. But he won two gold medals at the Olympics (2008 and 2012) as a player.



The puzzle of multi-sport cities

Bordeaux of crying football, Bordeaux of laughing rugby. Sport has dominated the Gironde news for days, with on the one hand the semi-final of the European Rugby Cup, this Saturday 1er May, between the Union Bègles-Bordeaux (UBB) and the Toulouse Stadium, and on the other hand the placing under supervision by the commercial court of the football club, after the defection of the American owner. Twelve years ago, the situation was the opposite: the local ovale was at the bottom of the hole, while the navies were crowned champions of France (in 2009) with the money of the audiovisual group M6.

“All the mayors and sports assistants in large cities are paralyzed by what is happening in Bordeaux, at the idea that it could happen to them”, underlines Patrick Appéré, sports assistant in Brest and vice-president of the National Association of elected officials in charge of sport (Andes). Even the champion city of France in all categories, Montpellier, which hosts no less than five high-level professional clubs in football, rugby, handball, basketball, volleyball, looks with concern towards the Gironde.

“In Bordeaux, they took big risks”

“They took big risks by giving the keys to their football club and their stadium to American financiers”, underlines Christian Assaf, vice-president of the Montpellier metropolis in charge of sport. Former first deputy of Georges Frêche, mayor from 1977 to 2004, Christian Assaf had a front row seat to assist in the development, under the leadership of his boss and Louis Nicollin, a local businessman in search of public markets, “What was then a sleeping beauty in terms of sport”. “It was give and take, he recounts. Today we could not do like that legally, but the philosophy remains unchanged: our clubs are in the hands of locally established bosses who will never leave with the fund. “

The example of Lyon, which has a Ligue 1 club, Top 14, but also women’s and men’s Pro A in basketball (in collaboration with Villeurbanne) speaks volumes. In the 2000s, the lawyer Thierry Braillard became deputy for sport (he will be minister under the five-year term of François Hollande) and will influence the rebirth of Olympique Lyonnais which vegetated in Ligue 2 when it was bought in 2004 by Jean-Michel Aulas. Same story with the LOU, a modest university rugby club, acquired by Olivier Ginon, the boss of the Lyon company GL Events. Or for Asvel Lyon-Villeurbanne, a basketball team taken over by Tony Parker.

→ ANALYSIS. Basketball: under the French baskets, the recovery

“Lyon is by virtue of its size the example which brings France closer to our European neighbors where the cities are larger and more multisport, because there is easier convergence between politics, the economy and a sufficient population base”, underlines Christophe Lepetit, head of studies at the Center for Sports Law and Economics. Beyond the critical size and the economic equation, it urges elected officials to reflect on the social utility of these clubs and their consistency with the local culture and the political project of the moment.

Elf Aquitaine brings football to Pau

“Bordeaux, Toulouse and Montpellier were rugby towns due to the English influence in the South West and the university culture of the sport, which was reserved for the elites in its infancy. Football came later, with industrialization and the need to provide an offer for the workers. In Pau, it was Elf Aquitaine who brought football ”, explains the professor in sports marketing, Michaël Tapiro.

The double, triple or even quadruple sport transplant only works if it clings to a cultural trunk. The so-called BHV sports – basketball, handball, volleyball – have often joined football or rugby towns to set up women’s teams or make young people from the neighborhoods play. This is the case in Patrick Appéré’s Brest where the women’s handball team, leading the French championship, is just as much the pride of the city as the hundred-year-old local football club. “The financial risks are beyond measure but the image benefit is important: a sports city attracts young people, executives and activity”, continues the vice-president of Andes.


The thorny subject of stadiums

Only two professional clubs are, according to the Center for Sports Law and Economics, 100% owners of their premises: Lyon in football, Clermont in rugby, a third being on his way to Montpellier for football. Elsewhere, different types of contracts bind clubs and municipalities: classic rental, long-term lease called emphyteutic, concession to a manager promoter … But the future of these costly for public finances is to own ownership, at least for powerful clubs. The mayor of Bordeaux will try to sell the stadium to the future buyer of the club, and that of Marseille has announced his desire to sell the Vélodrome stadium.