Boxing Beats fighting for integration
Île-de-France - Aubervilliers
Social ties in priority neighbourhoods
The largest women’s boxing club in France, Boxing Beats, with 249 members, 74 of whom women, has brought home no less than forty French championship titles between 1999 and 2012, along with several world, European and EU championship titles. The club is unique in that its purpose is both sporting and educational.
The club’s child members attend training after school. They range in age from 10 to 16, and 50 of them on average enter the ring after they have completed their homework at the club with the help of volunteer retired teachers. This educational requirement was a wish of Saïd Bennajem, employed by the association he founded in 1998. The voice of the two time champion of France carries when, during the first training session, he reminds the young boxers that school is a priority because boxing is not a livelihood. The club’s three volunteer trainers and three employees, including Sarah Ourahmoune, all promote these values.
Values for life
‘I was 15 years old when Saïd convinced me to try educational boxing for the fun of it. It is a hard sport that taught me to channel my energy and respect my opponent because hard blows are penalised. In sixteen years, this sport gave me an education and taught me fundamental values,’ confides Sarah. World champion at the age of 26 and eight times champion of France between the ages of 17 and 30, she has just hung up her boxing gloves to pursue a master’s degree in marketing (at Sciences Po). After making sport rhyme with score and school, Sarah has become a model for Boxing Beats’ 250 licensed members. In 2012, the club benefited from the sponsorship of two VINCI Concessions (Consortium Stade de France) employees to lastingly promote its educational values. ‘The mezzanine needed to be brought up to code so that children could do their homework in a safe environment and adults could conduct their job searches,’ explains Sylvère Chamoin, head of purchasing for the Stade de France. Also a volunteer with the association, he brought the project to the Foundation, which provided a €20,000 grant to fit out and create an educational space that was inaugurated in August 2012: building a staircase, insulation and heating, fitting out with computer equipment.
Employment access support starting at age 16
‘Since the room has been open, we have been able to provide more academic support, and we were able to develop audiovisual workshops such as Caméra au Poing [a fist full of camera] that encourage meetings between young club members and people working in companies,’ says Sarah. The aim of the partnership is to put two young people back on the road to employment every year. A component co-sponsored by Benoît Orsel, head of the HR and diversity group with the Stade de France: ‘the challenge is to restore the confidence of these young people from the disadvantaged suburbs who think that a position in society is for someone else.’ Mission accomplished, as can be seen with Nabil Maïdi who, at age 23, has just obtained a permanent position with Elior Services. ‘I joined the club five years ago to let off steam, but thanks to the support I received, I was able to revise my CV and learned how to search in the right direction.’
May 2013 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency
VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.