Arrived a few minutes before their 4 p.m. training, after their day of lessons, a small group of third-grade students from Jules-Michelet college, in Tours (Indre-et-Loire), hung the nets on the volleyball posts. The Danton multisports hall with its faded walls at the Palais des sports Robert-Grenon welcomes 25 college students several times a week, fromsixth to third, registered in the volleyball section opened ten years ago.
Today, Benoît Belliard, PE teacher at the college, has planned to separate his group. The youngest will practice their scales, while the most experienced will get into match condition under the watchful eye of Romain Lefèvre, an educator seconded by the departmental volleyball committee. For boys, this workout has a special flavor. They hope to join the girls, who have just validated their first qualification for the French championships of the UNSS (National Union of School Sport), which will take place in Mâcon (Saône-et-Loire) from March 7 to 9.
“Promoting social diversity”
All smiles, Inès does not regret having joined the section at the start of the year. “I was already in college but I didn’t play volleyball, which I discovered thanks to my girlfriends. It became my passion says the schoolgirl, who walks the floors eleven hours a week. At first, I lacked a bit of motor skills. But I quickly acquired the necessary skills. And now, I’m going to play the French inter-academic championships. »
Like other clubs (Montpellier, Sète, Nantes), Tours Volley-Ball (TVB) has made training a priority. “We are one of the first clubs in France to have hosted classes with flexible hours, which we support financially, from middle school to high school,” presents Pascal Foussard, the manager of TVB, the locomotive of tricolor volleyball.
Sitting on a bench, David Fradin, one of the two referents of the TVB, supervises the session. “This year, we wanted to increase the size of the section, from 15 to 25 students, and increase the volume of training, exposes the sports educator. It is a way of attracting young people from outside and promoting social diversity in this college with an unflattering reputation. »
“I joined the section this year. It’s demanding because I have to get up earlier in the morning to catch my traintestifies Marley, a fourth-grade student living in the neighboring town of Ballan-Miré. But I like it and my school results are better than before. » He hopes that the section will be a springboard to the training center and, why not, to a professional destiny like his idols, the international Earvin Ngapeth or Aboubacar Dramé Neto, the darling of the Touraine public.
The TVB forced to refuse members
This sector has, according to David Fradin, been “salutary for many young people in difficulty”. Gabriel Coulibaly, 18, found his way thanks to this section which he attended in 2017, from sixth to third. Failing at school, the young man stopped his schooling along the way, engaging in civic service at the Sports Union for Primary Education (USEP). He will pass the diplomas next year to become a sports educator.
In the popular district of the Palais des Sports, the TVB thus fully plays its role as a social player in the Touraine metropolis. The club’s educators work in the surrounding primary schools, supporting teachers in discovering this sport, which is unfailingly associated with the city’s identity. “We have this incredible chance to be a club in the city center and to be served by the tramway. This is why we have a large influx of children and young people who easily come to us,” rejoices Pascal Foussard.
The victory of the Blues at the Tokyo Olympics has consolidated the attractiveness of the club, which now has 400 licensees, from “baby volleyball” to seniors. But for two years, limited by its capacity, the TVB was forced to “reluctantly turn down a hundred people,” he regrets. To adapt to the high demand, the club carried out an extension project of the Sports Palace, abandoned for lack of public subsidies.