The “Reader’s Topic” of the Month for June: What Place for Women in Sports? Answers and Testimonials

It was Lélia Le Coquet, herself (tri)athlete, who proposed to the editors the “Readers’ topic” for this month of June 2022. She wanted “The place of women in this world of men, what is the world of sports, in training and in competition”.

Republican Yonne therefore went to meet several witnesses who are likely to shed light on this subject (a full file can be found in our paper edition of Thursday 23rd June).

Thaïs makes progress in a boys team

Thaïs Lanvin, 13, has played all season with the Stade Auxerrois U13 men’s team (in addition to training with the AJA Stade Auxerrois U18 women’s team), after four years on an all-female team.

“I think the boys have a better level. Physically they make more progress than the girls,” explains the fourth-year-old schoolgirl. “In the game, technically. Also in terms of speed. In terms of aggression I am much more aggressive than a year ago. And mentally: I let go less than before. I have grown mentally, with the boys.”

Brice Lanvin, her father, confirms: he has seen his daughter evolve this season. “It’s huge. She really crossed a plateau to play with the guys. And on top of that, she came across a group of very, very nice guys, who immediately accepted her as a player instead of a girl. As soon as there is a penalty, all the guys ask her to take it. It still shows some kind of confidence they have in her. There’s never a refusal to pass. She’s the one that’s going to hit the corners…”

Thaïs will participate in a sports study department in Dijon and Dijon FCO in September 2022.

At school the competitions are mixed

When college and high school students play sports in UNSS, especially on Wednesday afternoons, it is almost always in teams and often mixed.

“The students know it from the sixth grade. As soon as they start playing badminton, cross country, there should be girls and boys. I have the impression that the message gets across well,” emphasizes Jany Lefort, department director of the UNSS Yonne.

“Often the girls are not focused on competition at all, notes Anne-Laure Lucantonio, professor of physical education and sport at the Champs Pleasant school in Sens. They prefer to be in their spare time, enjoying different activities, but as soon as ‘we talk to them about competition on Wednesday afternoon, they prefer to step aside.”

In addition to the UNSS practice chosen by the students, it can be difficult to introduce gender diversity into classical gym classes. The students’ feelings can also differ per establishment: large or more intimate, in a rural area or in the city. Cultural peculiarities also influence the perception of diversity.

When driving, boys are the exception

Photo Lou Daum
There are predominantly female sports disciplines where it is the man who has to integrate.
The horse-ball team of VieuxChamps, in Charbuy, is an example. “The ‘boy’ gender is rather the anomaly in horse riding. It is the boy who has the right to play with the girls. However, most sports are boys sports where girls are allowed to play,” explains Clément Picard, player and coach.

Yes, there is a difference in physical strength between men and women. “But the girls compensate so much by the work of the horse, this diligence, this regularity, that behind, in a field, the sex differences are no longer noticeable. In addition, the weight or size of certain men can slow down, because if you have to bending over to pick up the ball, it’s better to be muscular…”, explains Clément Picard.

“I much prefer to play in a mixed team, it enriches me more than playing in a women’s team,” one of the players, Louise Picouet, said. Who does not hide that the mix evokes the need to prove oneself, almost a feeling of inferiority. “We girls will have to outdo ourselves more, because we want to find our place. We want to say to ourselves: there are guys opposite, I play with guys, but it’s not not because I’m a girl that I’m less good than them .”

Sabrina Huard
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