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 attests to 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. “
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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, guaranteeing 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.
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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 pushes sitting 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.