French footy gets on board with Leo Lagrange
Wednesday, November 22 2006 @ 04:09 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Aaron Richard
The footy scene in France is hoping to soon affiliate with the polysports association Leo Lagrange in an effort to improve the profile of Australian Rules football and give itself a channel to receiving funding through government channels.
The move comes as the French footy clubs debate the best way forward for the sport in France, with Strasbourg pulling out of the AFLG after a tough first year and options for regional leagues in and around France up for discussion.
The Leo Lagrange organisation is a French institution involved in community youth projects including sports and education, the sporting arm being set up in 1983. Laurent Caravel from the Paris footy scene believes affiliation with the Leo Lagrange will be a great bonus for Aussie Rules, offering legal recognition, the availablity of grants, leverage in finding playing areas and support for creating training courses for players, coaches and umpires - all combined with increased exposure to the youth of France. Marc Jund, founder and stalwart of the Strasbourg Kangaroos, is to coordinate the creation of a teaching project for the next three years.
Caravel reports one of the main difficulties facing teams in France at the moment is building the attractiveness of playing footy and retaining new players, who otherwise drift to other sports. While the French are unlikely to reach the IC in 2008, he is confident they will have a team ready by 2012. As part of the forward planning he proposed a split French club series, with a northern conference involving the Paris Cockerels and nearby Senlis Razorbacks, the Strasbourg Kangaroos, Brussels Saints and a team from Holland. The French teams seem keen, the question remaining whether those outside France decide to join the competition.
In the south, a conference could include teams from Catalonia, Madrid, Perpignan (the St Esteve Saints) and Tarbes, a city in the Pyrenees Mountains in south-western France, not far from the Spanish border. Again, this will require a lot of work logistically to set up, but Caravel is optimistic about the league's chances.