In sport, female coaches remain too rare

The beautiful story continues. And it’s not nothing for its main protagonist, as she thought at one time that she was not even going to start. Lauriane Dolt smiles today, but what mixed feelings, great fear and great questions before opening this new chapter of her life!

Let’s rewind. Until the beginning of 2020. Lauriane Dolt, then 37, has just decided to put her basketball career on hold. Entirely spent at the Strasbourg club, the “SIG”, to play at the beginning but very quickly to train, young hopefuls first, then the greatest, and professionals for a few years as assistant to chief strategist Vincent Collet, also at the helm of the France team. Almost twenty years of good and loyal service, before the desire to get some fresh air took over.

Coach and mom

His idea is twofold: go see elsewhere, especially abroad, what happens under the baskets, and have a child. Except that the Covid closes the door to his travel plans, and that mother nature is capricious, forcing him and his companion to embark on a long-term in vitro fertilization (IVF) protocol. And now a year later, in February 2021, the Mulhouse Basket Agglomeration club offered her to become the main coach of its professional team in National Men’s 1 (NM1, the third division) for the following season.

A high-level female coach for men, it does not exist then on the glossy floors. Lauriane Dolt reflects. The IVF protocol is heavy, she stops it with her companion. And banco for Mulhouse! The signing is scheduled for August 2021.

But badaboum, she gets pregnant naturally in July. Terrific news. However, she is not entirely happy. “I thought to myself: what am I going to do? How can the club president take it? Just hired and I’m unavailable? It was spinning in my headremembers Lauriane Dolt. And then – it’s in my nature – I anticipated and I arrived on the day of the signing, putting my cards on the table, with a project to manage the situation. That my president perfectly accepted, and I blamed myself, afterwards, for having made a whole world of it! »

Lauriane Dolt trains until her seventh month of pregnancy, then gives way to her deputy, gives birth to her little boy in early March 2022, and then gradually resumes her place on the bench. “It all happened very smoothly.she says. This season, I often go on the move. For the mother, there is a background of guilt that drags on. But my balance is there. That said, all of this makes me see this issue of female coaches differently. It did not arise for me because, from the age of 16, things happened naturally, and I have always evolved at ease in a male environment. It is today that I measure more the complexity of things. »

24 coaches only in the elite of team sports

Because the story of Lauriane Dolt is truly unique. Beyond the question of maternity, women coaches are already very rare. Out of 536 professional and elite teams in the five major team sports (basketball, football, handball, rugby, volleyball), the Federation of Professional Coaches (FEP) has barely 24 women as head coaches. 4.48%, a pittance.

“The proportion is higher in training centers, young teams, but there is a glass ceiling when it comes to coaching the elitewe note at the FEP. The causes ? They are multiple. The absence of models, of course. The feminization plans that exist in the federations, but do not always benefit from a lot of resources. The lack of economic stability, too, of the women’s sector as a whole: the professionalization of players is not guaranteed everywhere, that of coaches either. »

Lauriane Dolt often hears about the lack of role models. And for good reason: we would make her put on the ambassador’s costume. But that’s not really his temperament. No more than that of Valérie Garnier. The former master of playing for the Bleues du basket (from 2013 to 2021) and Bourges (among others) is today the only one to benefit from experience among women and men, since she has been training since December 2022 the NM1 Tours Métropole Basket club. “I certainly had messages from colleagues who told me: another door that you push for us womensays Valérie Garnier. But I don’t have the state of mind of the standard bearer. »

Will quotas be necessary?

This does not prevent the coach, at 58, from observing many blocking points. “I have observed several times, when a coach leaves a post or is dismissed from his position, that she struggles to find a place while men participate more easily in a game of musical chairs. For us, the network effect does not play. And then it must be recognized that there are still few presidents who think of hiring a woman. »

Angélique Spincer, 38, will not say the opposite, she who is the only one (with the Danish Helle Thomsen in Nantes) to lead an elite women’s handball team, in Plan-de-Cuques (Bouches-du-Rhône ). The 2011 vice-world champion became a coach almost by chance, in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés (Val-de-Marne). “I had signed in my last player contract a conversion to a permanent contract within the club, but without specifying the positionshe explains. The needs were there, to take over a team, and so I trained. I hadn’t thought of it because during our careers as players, we meet very few women in coaching. This gives the impression that these trades are reserved for men. We need more mixed staff. I’m trying to change that at my club, with a goalkeeping coach, a woman in charge of the National 2 team in particular. I am lucky to have leaders who are open to this development. »

Will the new generations, who are more sensitive to these issues of diversity, apply more easily for these positions? Lauriane Dolt is not convinced. She, who participates in numerous training courses at the departmental or regional level, observes: “For 2 or 3 years, the candidates to train or be technical managers have been decreasing”, she regrets. Should we therefore go through a policy of quotas? Lauriane Dolt and Valérie Garnier are in phase on this chapter, judging the quotas “insulting” and dreaming that we only talk about skills. Angelique Spincer is more measured: “No matter what we do and say, things only move slowly. So if you have to go through quotas…”


The slow feminization of sport

In June 2021, the main organizations of the sports movement signed the Paris Appeal for Sport, committing to greater equality between women and men, in particular through feminization plans. The Federation of Professional Trainers joined this call in January 2022.

In 2022, there were 19 women presidents of a sports federation (field hockey, skiing, American football, etc.) and 17 national technical directors (volleyball, fencing, horse riding, etc.).

With 4.9 million licenses out of 13 million, women represent 37.8% of sports licensees in 2021. A declining figure, according to the annual census of the Mission surveys, data and statistical studies (Medes). The most feminized federations are those of ice sports (87.4% of members), dance (85.5%), horse riding (83.8%) and gymnastics (82.8%).


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