January 25, 2022

Occitanie / Sport: the Region listening and supporting volunteers

Athletes and volunteers brought together by the Occitanie Region around Kamel Chibli. (©DR)

With 1.4 million licensees or 21% of the inhabitants, the Occitanie Region is undeniably turned towards the sport. If professional activity is an essential driver in the sector, amateur practice constitutes the vast majority of the occupations of the clubs. An activity enabled by the commitment of more than 300,000 volunteers. The second edition of Regional meetings of sports volunteers, organized by the Occitanie Region with the slogan “without volunteers, no sports”, allowed to hear their needs and to present the support systems provided by the community.

Bring together the volunteers

Organized in October 2019 at the initiative of the President of the Region Carole Delga, the first edition of the Occitanie Sports Volunteers Meetings demonstrated the importance of these thousands of people for the vitality of sport in Occitania. Unfortunately, in 2020, the health crisis did not allow this operation to be repeated. At the request of Kamel Chibli, vice-president in charge of Education, Guidance, Youth and Sports, the 2021 edition was held last week in accordance with the rules and compliance with health standards for may this meeting allow us to renew our commitment to sports players and strongly mark the major role of volunteers in Occitania.

Thus, on the occasion of the International Volunteer Day on December 5, nearly 150 participants, distributed in the hemicycles of the hotels in the Toulouse and Montpellier Region in duplex, and 500 participants connected to live on the Internet, were gathered on Tuesday. December 7 to discuss with the speakers and share their experiences to contribute to the support work carried out by the Region in favor of sports volunteering in Occitania.

On the sidelines of the discussions, seven volunteers were honored by high-level athletes from clubs in Occitania. Like the great athletes who promote sport in Occitanie, these are Jean Thomas (Colomiers Rugby), Omar El Yazidi (Montpellier Taekwondo), Carla Neisen (Blagnac Rugby), Kevin Bonnefoi (Montpellier Handball), Margot De Freitas and Noémie Brochant (Toulouse Métropole Basket), Pierre Plihon (Arc Club de Nîmes) and Titouan Assani (Spacer’s Volley) who were able to honor with emotion a volunteer who marked them during their sporting career.

An essential role in clubs

During this evening Arnaud Saurois, lecturer in Sports Management at the University of Poitiers, introduced the exchanges by drawing up the portrait of sports volunteering in Occitania. Then a round table led by Kamel Chibli highlighted the major subjects of volunteering with several speakers.

Thus, in turn, between Toulouse and Montpellier, Christel Lavaud, president of the Montpellier Judo Olympic; Claude Soutadé, member of the Occitanie Rugby League and club president; Aude Trabach, manager of the Yacht Club of La Grande-Motte; Michel Bourdoncle, president of the Balmanais Athletic club – Athletics and Patrice Vidal, president of L’Ariégeoise Cyclosportive discussed the concepts of (re) mobilization, rejuvenation, renewal, training, promotion, status of volunteers (…) abounded by the reactions of assistance, which emphasized the solidarity and social bond omnipresent in the structures.

The difficulties encountered by clubs and events were recalled: uncertainty linked to the health crisis, declining morale among athletes and volunteers, an anxiety-provoking climate, increased responsibilities, administrative overload, etc. Associative governance is running out of steam dangerously. The loss of mobilization of volunteers is becoming a matter of concern for Occitan clubs.

Occitanie in support of sports volunteering

Also, during the evening, it was a question of discussing the challenges and avenues of work so that Occitanie is the “Region ahead of sport”: to retain young people who engage in short-term volunteering, to seek the convergence between the associative project and the need, seek valuation and training as a counterpart to the investment of volunteers, take into account the achievements of volunteer experience which can constitute an important help for people in retraining or in back to work. Thus, people with little qualifications may find in volunteering an opportunity to acquire know-how useful for their professional integration.

In accordance with Carole Delga’s campaign commitments during the last regional elections, a Foundation for Volunteers in Occitania will be created. Other times for consultation on this subject will come, but the main areas of work will be to make the entire supply and demand for “volunteer missions” clear at the regional level, to detect “profile volunteers” in particular on “fine” skills (digital, communication, partnership search), to support digitization through qualifying training programs (in particular young people) so that volunteers acquire or strengthen “professional” skills, to find regional private partnerships to increase the endowment at the regional level, to find human resources in “specific technical” missions with skill-based sponsorship, etc.

At the end of this event, Kamel Chibli recalled the desire of President Carole Delga and her team to provide the best possible support for sports players in Occitania through regional sports policy but also to develop the avenues of work put implemented, also in connection with the work of the Regional Sports Conference which he chairs.

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