City politicians want more sport

The expectation is visible: more than 250 professional, institutional, associative actors and even members of citizens’ councils registered on July 8 to participate in a webinar on the question “Sport in working-class neighborhoods: what problems for city policy?”. In addition, participants who, during the exchanges, always continue to feed the chat with opinions, questions… and requests for new discussion moments. For the organisers, the members of the sports working group of three information centers for urban policy (Citylabs, Resource trajectories and Reso-cities), the message is clear: players in urban policy are looking for sport… or rather sociosport, a term that spreads. itself because it includes all forms of action that make use of this lever and aim at inclusion, reduction of inequalities, integration…

However, the subject is old: “It has been an active area of ​​research for 25 years, reports Gilles Vieille-Marchiset, university professor in the Department of Sports and Social Sciences at the University of Strasbourg. The state, in France, was at the root of the birth of sports with a social vocation, passed down in the 1980s by the inhabitants of the districts themselves sportsmen.” Since 2015, sport has been the subject of a section in city contracts, also remembers Hélène Chapet, head of “social ties and neighborhood image” at the ANCT, and “a circular dated March 25, 2019 develops the way it can become an activity that reveals talents , carries within itself values ​​or is even a structuring axis of the territory project.” Also since then, many local authorities and associations have mobilized to act in this direction.

“Urgent matters”

But two new elements are encouraging us to move forward today: the renewal of city contracts, which will take place in the coming months, and the covid crisis, which has exposed and exacerbated the health consequences of low sports practice in popular neighborhoods. † For Gilles Vieille-Marchiset, this is one of the current “pressing issues”. He wants to bring it up within the health committee for young people and children of the High Council of Public Health, of which he is a member.

Another “pressing topic”, according to him: “We have to work with the entire population”. At the Ministry of Sports, Stéphanie Hocde-Labau, deputy head of public policy development, confirms: “Despite all the actions, we still do not see women exercising”. Inequalities in access to sport according to disability, income, etc. are also “all accentuated in the neighbourhoods”. In particular: “We have a supply policy, not an answer to demand”. For example, she reports to the group of disgruntled Pass’sport users who were questioned by the ministry about the simplification of the information tools linked to the system: “We have not yet asked them what their real needs are, she notes. It could be an evolution of may be the ministry to be that of the practitioners and the athletes, and not that of the federations.”

For “exact specifications”

Actions in the field of education, integration or integration through sport, which are becoming more and more numerous, also deserve to move to a more mature stage, believes Gilles Vieille-Marchiset, who offers some ideas: “Sport can tackle social problems, but on a few conditions: have a rather fun approach to sports because the competition selects on its own, respond to the person by taking into account his environment or even the moments of his life, rely on actors who know the sport but also educators, specialists or teachers, for example building socio-educational alliances between clubs, colleges, prevention associations, etc., and recognizing educators in socio-sport through better salaries and training”.

Finally, for this academic, just as researchers recognize that “sport has no magical function in answering societal questions”, it is “not obvious that a club should be involved in the politics of the city” and be able to do . “So they have to be able to respond to more precise, structuring specifications in order to be financed,” he says.

To go into practice, the participants of this webinar would like to have a different time, especially to discuss their experiences. These are the plans of the three political information centers of the organizing city, which will also open their sports working group to volunteers.

State funding: an effort that must be continued

According to the point made during this webinar by Stéphanie Hocde-Labau, deputy head of public policy development at the Ministry of Sport, the state plans to allocate €96 million in 2022 for proximity sports equipment, of which € 81 million is earmarked for urban policy priority neighborhoods (QPV) and rural revitalization zones (ZRR). Operated by the National Sports Agency and aiming to support coaching, the Sesame System aims to train 6,000 young people (by 2022, 800 as of January), with a 37% utilization rate in QPV. Like the Youth Guarantee before that, the youth employment contract for the 16-18 age group benefits 30% of the inhabitants of these neighbourhoods. Finally, the Pass’sport, which has already affected 1.35 million young people and 55,000 structures, has a 13% utilization rate in QPV. “If we know that these neighborhoods represent 7% of the French population, we can be satisfied, she notes, but we must continue, because this profession remains low among young girls and non-profit organizations.” Likewise, the ministry continues to “intertwine the area” with sports health centers, “the link that allows you to get back to physical activity”. Currently, 91 of the 436 are in QPV.