“Volunteers are the life blood of amateur and professional sport. Their strength should be recognised”


A new partnership for Sport and Citizenship! As a long-term investor in sport in its region, Groupama Rhône-Alpes Auvergne will be working with our Think Tank in a study on recognising volunteers. The Director General, Francis Thomine, talks about the issues and what has already been done in this area.

Groupama Rhône-Alpes Auvergne is a traditional partner of sport in its region. You support both amateur and professional athletes and clubs. What is your personal vision of sport and why do you have this commitment?
As a former high-level athlete, I am personally very attached to the values, conveyed by sport, of good performance and doing one’s best. These values have helped me throughout my professional career.
Whether we are talking about professional clubs or amateur clubs in the voluntary sector, we must recognise that each person involved is a vital link for developing sport, educating young people and bringing life to our regions.
In our sport sponsorship programme, we know that it is necessary to consider sport at every level. It is now generally acknowledged that sponsorships are a very effective way of promoting a company’s image and the values shared between sports clubs and private partners.
Through our presence in the key sports clubs in our region (ASM Clermont-Auvergne, Olympique Lyonnais, Tango Bourges Basket, Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc and others) we are proud to contribute to the attractivity of our region, to have a close relationship with our partners and to form a real community.


The development of volunteering in sport is one of your priorities for the future. What is the current situation, and how can a financial and societal partner like your group help sport stakeholders to change?
In France, 175,000 sports associations are kept going by about three million volunteers. The health crisis led to a fall in the number of volunteers and the frequency of their activities. In order to keep the volunteers who are so vital for regional sport, the clubs and their partners need to act together to ensure that volunteers are recognised and appreciated.
As a mutual company with the benefit of a network of more than 4,000 elected volunteers, we know how essential the voluntary sector is. Volunteers are the life blood of amateur and professional sport. Their strength should be recognised.
That is why Groupama Rhône-Alpes Auvergne decided to join the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Region in a great project: the creation of a “Volunteers’ Trophy” which will be launched for the 2023-2024 season. The objective is clear: to reward all those who keep sport and its values alive every day.
This is the spirit in which we will continue to act, with a firm determination to have a
positive societal impact in the local area and to help small sports clubs develop.


The sport ecosystem has changed a lot in the last few decades. The position of the sports club in its local area is being called into question by so-called free, autonomous ways of doing sport. Are sports clubs as we know them threatened?
Covid and the health crisis which followed its arrival have accelerated things and revealed new, free and independent ways of doing sport, as well as new disciplines.
However, the popular enthusiasm for the recent World Cup proves that the current ecosystem still has a good future.


Your group and our Think Tank have joined forces to strengthen the impact of sport in society. What is behind this commitment, and the projects you hope to develop with us?
Through this collaboration with your Think Tank in our area, we aim to become a key actor in our regional sport sector, and strongly develop our societal impact.
Our objectives are multiple: to help to structure the demand in order to increase our societal impact, to create a synergy to encourage stakeholders to act together, to measure the effectiveness of our action with key performance indicators (KPI), and to consider the status of volunteers.

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Sport et citoyenneté