National Olympic Committee: Brigitte Henriques, quiet determination

She was the favorite, and she won it without a hit. Brigitte Henriques won in the first round of the elections for the presidency of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF), collecting 57.87% of the 1,022 votes called to vote on Tuesday, June 29. They are well ahead of the other three candidates: the former judoka Thierry Rey, his main challenger, won only 19.26% of the vote, just ahead of the co-president of the Federation sportive et gymnique du travail Emmanuelle Bonnet-Ouladj (16.05% ), the former world water skiing champion Patrice Martin bringing up the rear (6.82%).

The current vice-president of the French Football Federation in a way embodied continuity, she who had already held the vice-presidency of the institution alongside Denis Masseglia since 2017. At 50, she became the first woman to take thus the head of the tricolor Olympic movement. Did this parameter prove to be essential in the final choice? The president of the French Football Federation Noël Le Graët, one of his most fervent supporters, on the contrary liked to point out the opposite: “It’s not easy for a woman to get to this job”, he commented, praising his essential qualities, “Work and intelligence”.

A victory dedicated to all women

Brigitte Henriques in any case hurried to dedicate her victory to all women ” to whom I mean that we must dare to apply, and access positions of responsibility, “we can do it” “. True, with only 14 women presidents in the 108 sports federations of the CNOSF, diversity is still far from reigning in the world of sports leaders. We still have to work together, and Brigitte Henriques knows something about it.

Finding her place, clinging to her passion, this is the story of her sporting life when she decided, at the age of 12, to put on crampons. Until then, she was hitting the leather with her five brothers, but she very quickly liked to go further by joining the Poissy club, one of the pioneering clubs of women’s football in the 1980s. At the time, they were not not many in the field, and his parents are not particularly happy. But Brigitte, yes. Football, she loves, like the atmosphere with the girlfriends. She therefore pursued her at Juvisy, the flagship club of the D1 at the time. Brigitte Henriques will be three times champion of France (1994, 1996 and 1997) in these times when wages are leveling off.

In the United States, she discovers the importance of women’s “soccer”, and understands that France is well behind. In fact, when she also wears the blue jersey (from 1988 to 1997), she wins peasants. Even if the essential is not there, it is a bit annoying. So when, after having coached for a few years, she was offered by Noël Le Graet the post of general secretary of the FFF, in charge of the development of women’s football, she did not miss the boat. The plan to feminize football launched in 2012, she will be the absolute champion. In his own way, with determination, but without rushing things.

Take your time to do well

To those who regret the slowness of progress, she often repeats the figures: in ten years, the graduates went from 50,000 to over 200,000, and the leaders from 25,000 to 37,000. She also defends the structuring of the elite. , even if some are worried about too slow a professionalization. Brigitte Henriques remains faithful to her manners: taking her time to do well.

She should apply the formula at the head of the CNOSF, even if she is aware that one should not dawdle too much either because an essential appointment is looming: the Games in Paris in 2024. In the 121 proposals that made up its program , included in particular the request to the government for a solidarity fund over the period 2022-2024 to allow the federations to gradually return to their pre-pandemic situation.

Making one’s voice heard will be one of the major objectives of his term of office. Because the Olympic movement as a whole suffers today from a lack of support more than felt, the health crisis accentuating the feeling that sport is hardly considered essential. Gone are the days when the spirited Nelson Paillou, enthusiastic president of the CNOSF from 1982 to 1993, dreamed of making the voices of millions of sportsmen in France heard very loudly to influence the government. Brigitte Henriques knows that on this front too, the expectations are numerous, the illusions much lower. Carry and convince the skeptics, she knows how to do it. The ball is in his court.


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