Emmanuel Ravelojaona, president of the Montpellier Sharks: “The Games will highlight our sport”

Interview with a happy and proud president of the Montpellier Sharks.

How do you rate your season?

He is super positive with this title of champion of France in National 2 that we have been looking for since 2018. However, this year was the hardest. It was necessary to go back into the bath after the health crisis, to train new players. We also had technical problems, such as our new vehicle burning down. In terms of objectives, we went for what we wanted. Our team in National 1 finished third, a very good performance.

Your pennant team is therefore the third best in France this season…

We created this team to develop our players with great potential, so that Brice Maurel, member of the French team, can continue to play at a high level in view of the big international deadlines to come. We faced big opponents such as Stade Toulousain, five-time French champion and still unbeaten this season. Little by little we are closing the gap with this type of team. In the medium term we hope to be able to challenge them.

With your reserve you have won the title in N2 that you have been fleeing since 2018…

We were eager to achieve this title with new players who brought a lot, but who wanted to train without slowing down the most experienced players. We lost several games, but we learned from our defeats and persevered. The players were diligent, they worked a lot. We knew we could go for something big. We passed the difficulty and it is even more satisfying.

The French team took part in the 2021 Paralympic Games in Tokyo and was crowned European champions at the beginning of this year. Are these results important to a club like yours?

It’s very positive, it shows that the French team is making progress. And so that the clubs and the championship of France too. Montpellier has been contributing to this since its foundation in 2014. Clubs like ours have changed the world level. We see that France is more efficient with young people knocking on the door of the Blues and striving for excellence. Wheelchair rugby has become the emerging discipline of para sports. We are witnessing a transfer between basketball and rugby on the international stage.

How will the Paralympic Games in Paris in 2024 ensure that wheelchair rugby can develop even more?

It becomes an extra spotlight. Para sports have very little visibility, except in major competitions such as the Paralympic Games. Paris 2024 will put our sport in the spotlight. A World Cup is planned in France in 2023, supported by the French Rugby Federation. We are going to show the general public that it is a sport with involvement, contacts. I’m sure we’ll have new athletes, new clubs. This will be an extra boost for wheelchair rugby. In addition, France has a good chance of a medal.

A crowdfunding campaign

Before going on holiday, Montpellier handi rugby hosts an international tournament in the Lunel-Viel Sports Hall on 2 and 3 July with a Welsh, Spanish and French team. The Sharks will also be part of the party with the aim of winning.

In addition, the Montpellier club has launched a crowdfunding campaign to buy armchairs for children that will be used during awareness campaigns in schools, but also for the future creation of a youth section within the club.

The crowdfunding link: www.humanandgo.fr/fr/projects/achat-fauteuils-roulant-taille-enfant.