Paris 2024 Olympics: parade, Olympic flame, competitions… how Montpellier schoolchildren are doing their Games

Paris 2024 Olympics: parade, Olympic flame, competitions… how Montpellier schoolchildren are doing their Games

The Montpellier schoolboys had carefully prepared their opening ceremony on the synthetic pitch. Midi Libre – Richard Gougis

During this Olympic week, nearly 2 million students immersed themselves with their teachers in the atmosphere of the Games. At the Jeu de Mail college, in Montpellier, the students pushed the experiment to the limit? A youth ready to thrill for the Olympics.

"I officially declare the 2024 Mail Games open". Pronounced on the microphone by the principal of the Mail game college on the synthetic football field, the sentence of Principal Nadia Moulla raises the ovation of the 600 students in a trance.

In this Olympic week, presented in front of more than a million pupils and students, the Montpellier establishment is one of those pushing the Experience the extreme with kids ready to play the Games. Everyone paraded proudly and delivered colorful choreographies, embodying a continent by class level under the banners and rings made with heart.

"It makes me angry to see the effect it has on these young people"

In this ceremony where the word opening took on its full meaning, they ended up dancing around a paper flame which burned in their eyes with a brilliance larger than life. Former Burkinabe Olympic selection in long jump and ex-security agent of the establishment, Franck Zio has his fan club.

Paris 2024 Olympics: parade, Olympic flame, competitions… how Montpellier schoolchildren are doing their Games

Franck Zio, Laetitia Meignan and Marion Buisson-Levicq, three former Olympic athletes meeting college students. Midi Libre – Richard Gougis

"It’s beautiful, it makes me cry to see the effect it can have on these young people" says Laetitia Meignan, ex-judokate bronze medalist in Barcelona (1992) and today responsible for the fight against violence and discrimination at Creps de Montpellier. The emotion echoes the image of two unaccompanied minors perfectly integrated and carrying the flag of their class.

"Make these Games everyone’s business"

Another high-level athlete at the origin of the party, Marion Buisson-Levicq, former Olympic selection in Beijing 2008 (pole vault) and now PE teacher at college. "The college has been labeled generation 2024 for 7 years. We had brought this label to life on a small scale but in this Olympic year, we wanted to do things on a big scale with the teachers and the students. Let it be everyone's business because we were able to realize that some students did not know what the Games were about."

Initiations and interclass competitions

Hence the interest in the workshops set up throughout the week to learn about pole vaulting, sumo and disabled table tennis, but also to discover the history of the games with other teachers, via medals, outfits, souvenirs. All enhanced by an inter-class competition against a backdrop of climbing, athletics, table tennis and basketball, with places to be won for matches with professional teams from the Metropolis.

Also read: Olympic Week in schools: giving a taste for physical activity to combat a worrying sedentary lifestyle

With sports sections (adjusted classes) in gymnastics, volleyball, basketball and dance, the college is certainly teeming with students already immersed in the Olympic pot. "It completes our general culture and it’s great to be able to exchange with former athletes", smiles Lola, student of 5th in classical dance section. "It’was worthy of a real opening ceremony!"

"It teaches you to get involved, to know your comrades better"

Another 5th grade student, Mohamed admits that he discovers a universe beyond the limits of the soccer field where he lets off steam every weekend: "I didn't know all that. I didn't know there were professional swimmers or that bow shooting was a sport! These games in college also teach you to get involved, to get to know your classmates better. It made me want to follow the Olympics…"

Where Rayan (3rd) sees "a good way to let off steam and create connections", Johan ( 3rd), future basketball player, hopes that "this will popularize the sport in France, an opportunity not to be missed."

In front of these smiles as wide as the "homemade" Olympic rings; hanging on the stadium gates, the faces of Nadia Moulla and her deputy are just as radiant. "The 5th grade students are a difficult age group, with an energy difficult to channel well, explains the principal. Some people spend a lot of time in our offices… So seeing them deploy such energy and pleasure on this project is pure happiness!"

"The Games firstly have a festive and unifying side"

Marion Buisson-Levicq feels that this aspect of the challenge is about to be won: "Bringing them together around sport , that they want to turn on their TV this summer to follow the event. The Games have first of all a festive and unifying side and we unfortunately tend to rsquo;forgetting by highlighting organizational or other problems…"

With less than 110 days before kick-off, there would therefore be a French youth ready to forget the controversy over the price of tickets, the risks of attack or the possible hassle transports. A youth quick to remind us that vibrating and having fun for the Olympics remains child’s play. Reassuring, no ?

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