ESSEC has been awarded the “Generation 2024” label following an application submitted by the school’s Sports Union (BDS). This label is issued by the French Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. It is designed to develop links between the academic world and sports movements to promote the practice of physical activity and sports among young people in the run-up to the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024. In this interview, Ludovic Alimi, a student at the ESSEC Grande École/Master in Management and Head of the BDS, discusses the union’s commitments.
- How do you feel after being awarded this label?
We are all very happy and proud to have played a part in the Bureau des Sports (BDS)–and more broadly ESSEC–obtaining the “Generation 2024” label. It was Thierry Terret, the French Interministerial Delegate for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, who told us this good news recently. It rewards the efforts made by the members of the BDS, particularly Elsa Bardin and Rodolphe Chollat-Namy, to compile a high-quality bid.
- Why did you choose to apply for the label?
The fact that the Olympic Games will be by hosted by Paris in 2024 is a tremendous opportunity. I sincerely believe that as players in university sports, it is important for us, BDS, to take this chance to promote greater student involvement in sports. We need to create real, positive momentum in order to ensure that these Olympics are not just yet another event but rather a competition with lasting consequences on the practice of sports in higher education at large. That’s why when the opportunity presented itself, we didn’t hesitate for a second to apply for this label.
- How will this label benefit the BDS and ESSEC?
Among other things, this label will enable the school to participate in research and events promoting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in preparation for the 2024 Olympics, but also to develop sports projects with local clubs in Cergy, and to improve support for high-level athletes within the school. For example, the ESSEC Cheerleading Club has just participated in the artistic project Dansons vers 2024 [Let’s dance to 2024], whose aim is to engage students in the Olympic momentum through dance. The Club produced their choreography as a video, and it was broadcast during the Olympic and Paralympic Week from February 1 to 6, 2021. More broadly, the BDS and ESSEC will use this label to support the development of the practice of sports within the school and to reinforce its objectives of inclusion, health and respect. The timing of getting this label is perfect because in 2022 brand new sports facilities are going to be built on the Cergy campus. This will include a gymnasium with bleachers, a climbing wall–a new Olympic discipline–and tennis courts. This sports complex will help foster this positive dynamic attitude not only within the school, but also in the town of Cergy, which is fully invested in the Olympic adventure. For example, it was one of the first cities to be awarded the “Terre de Jeux 2024” label.
- Is the practice of sports a pillar of students’ experience at ESSEC?
Absolutely. To give you some statistics: there are more than 2,000 students who engage in at least one sport on the Cergy campus; and there are 17 active student sports associations within ESSEC. Over and above the number of students who practice sport, there is the fact of the exceptional achievements of the school’s sports teams that reflect the students’ commitment. For example, the ESSEC Football Club now has the highest academic record in France: since the arrival of its coach Jean-Michel Bessière 30 years ago, the club has won 12 Ile-de-France championship titles and two French championship titles. The ESSEC Rowing Club also has a remarkable track record, including four medals in the last two French Championships and three titles in the 2018 and 2019 Nantes International Regattas.
- Can you give us some key figures of the ESSEC BDS?
In terms of budget, the ESSEC BDS is the largest BDS in France. We have more than 45 active members, and what is unique about our Union is that it manages all sports-related issues within the school, from hiring coaches to the purchase of sports equipment, through the implementation of training schedules to the organization of sporting events. Among these events, the BDS organizes the ESSEC Champions Cup, a multi-sport tournament that takes place every year in May in Montalivet in the south of France and brings together more than 300 students from all over Europe (Mannheim, Manchester, Prague, Lausanne, Ljubljana, etc.). In 2023, one year before the Paris Olympics, ESSEC’s BDS will celebrate its 50th anniversary of its 1973 founding in Cergy!