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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.

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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. “

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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. “

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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.

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