Interview with the Director of National Education, Youth and Sports

Interview with Ms. Isabelle Bonnal, Director of National Education, Youth and Sports

At the head of the Department of National Education, Youth and Sports, Isabelle Bonnal has made the fight against doping one of the priority axes of her action, by forging, in particular, strong links with the Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee. The Director agreed to tell us a little more about her role, her commitment to the fight against this scourge and, more generally, her attachment to sport in general.

In order to help our visitors to discover the Department of National Education, Youth and Sports a little better, could you, Madam Director, tell us about its mission and its scope?

In its capacity as a service of the Department of the Interior, the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for implementing the policy of the Prince's Government in the following areas:

  • Education, including the organization and administration of education, the supervision of private education and educational and university guidance.
  • Youth, with, among other things, the study and implementation of actions aimed at youth, communication with young people, associations and youth movements in the Principality.
  • Sport, with more particularly the management of sports facilities in the Principality, the implementation of school programs and the development of school sport in connection with the teaching of physical and sport education, and as a privileged interlocutor of the Administration with the sports movement, the encouragement of the practice of associative sport, leisure and competition.
Many Monegasque students are also top athletes. How does the Monegasque education system enable them to excel both academically and sportingly?

Since the start of the 2014 school year, the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports, in conjunction with the Monegasque Olympic Committee, has implemented a specific system at high school level, called "Sport Elite", for students selected each year by the Monegasque Olympic Committee. They must practice a sporting activity up to 20 hours per week minimum.

These students benefit from a reduction in their school timetable which allows them to train morning and evening and thus to reconcile, in the best conditions, their studies with a view to obtaining the baccalaureate and an intensive practice of sport. high level.

This year, the first year in which Terminale students benefit from this particular device, the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports obtained from the Rectorate of the Academy of Nice, thanks to the excellent relations it maintains with this last, that the pupils in question benefit from the facilities of the Physical Education and Sports (EPS) exams of the Baccalaureate reserved for high-level athletes.

Fairness, merit, will, surpassing oneself… doping goes against the sporting values ​​so important for the structuring and education of young people. At the same time, this phenomenon is also at the confluence of the contradictions of our time: cult of performance, desire for immediate gain despite long-term risks, political and geopolitical tensions, disproportionate financial stakes ... What is your point of view, Madam Director, on this scourge which undermines the image of world sport? Faced with the injunctions of spectacle and performance at all costs, more and more athletes, even among the youngest, are tempted to take this shortcut that is doping. And it appears that moral recriminations do not carry as much as in the past. What message should we send to young people to dissuade them from resorting to such cheating?

Sport is a model through all of the noble educational values ​​it conveys. Doping is indeed a scourge against which it is imperative to fight. It significantly and durably tarnishes the image of Sport and places itself in total contradiction with the values ​​of sport which are, in particular, loyalty, respect, fairness, self-control or even surpassing oneself. In general, we must show the most total intransigence against those who have recourse to these devices. In my opinion, the main problem is that doping techniques are more and more sophisticated and difficult to detect. International bodies must therefore work hand in hand to establish common rules in order to preserve fairness in sports competitions but above all to protect the health of athletes. We must also encourage the actions of players in the sports world who are going in this direction. Many of them, such as, for example, professional footballers, are role models for young people: they must therefore actively participate in this “anti-doping culture”.

At our level, it is essential to develop education programs for young people, reminding them, through strong messages, that doping can destroy a sports career and have irreversible consequences on health. Without reducing everything to a simple and unique moralizing speech, it is important, it seems to me, that our young people understand and apprehend the impact that doping can have on their future or that of their friends. They can, by their involvement and awareness of this scourge, become real sentinels within their own club to detect and help those who might be tempted by the use of such products.

Heart attack, stroke, hormonal disorders… the list is long and the examples unfortunately too numerous! It should also be remembered that the side effects of doping substances can adversely affect sports performance.

I would add that unfortunately doping can be found today in areas other than sport. Indeed, with the approach of the exams, intellectual doping can be attractive for some students.

This is why the Department of National Education, Youth and Sports is implementing general prevention aimed at high school students in order to make them aware of the risks of consuming psycho-addictive substances such as amphetamines, cocaine, etc.

Without reducing everything to a simple and unique moralizing speech, it is important, it seems to me, that our young people understand and apprehend the impact that doping can have on their future or that of their friends.

Ms. Isabelle Bonnal

The Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee regularly intervenes with young Monegasques, in schools and sports clubs, to prevent the dangers of doping. How is the collaboration between the Committee and the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports structured? What points to work on to further improve the prevention strategy?

 Conferences are organized for pupils in grades 2nd, with the participation of doctors from the Medico-Sportive Center. The doping problem is approached from different angles (health, psychological, legal, etc.). At the end of each conference, a time for debate is reserved for exchanges allowing students and their teachers to express themselves and to dialogue with the speakers. Since 2015, the Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee has also participated in the School Athletic Games, an event organized each year by the Department of National Education, Youth and Sports, to raise awareness among 7th grade students. In the presence of the Chairman of the Committee, a stand is run by doctors who play questions and answers with the children and who distribute them gifts and brochures. In order to always improve in this area, it is planned at college level, from the next school year, and within the framework of Interdisciplinary Practical Teaching (EPI), the establishment of 3 sessions on the theme of doping for students of 5th.

It is no longer just a question of transmitting information to students but of involving them as actors in dynamic projects.

Monaco has always carried an image of sporting excellence. The results of the various flagship clubs of the Principality are still remarkable today. How is sport doing in Monaco?

 With two professional teams, each leading their championship, I think we can say that sport is doing very well today in Monaco. In the Principality, sport is a real tradition and a passion, carried by its Sovereign Prince, Princess Charlene and the entire population. Monaco is a country focused on sport which, despite its small size, can be proud of the quality of the sports infrastructure made available to all practitioners and of a proactive policy of "sport for all" applied daily by the Government. Princely.

What sport (s) are you following with interest?

I am a big fan of basketball and regularly attend Roca Team meetings. On the women's side, I can only salute the performance of the Monaco Basket Association's National 2 team, as well as those of ASM Basket-ball. Football is also a sport that I follow with great interest. The Department of National Education, Youth and Sports carries out some actions in collaboration with ASM FC. This year, for example, a professional ASM player visited a classroom where he was interviewed by students.

In terms of individual sports, skating and horse riding are disciplines that I particularly like. In general, I always keep an attentive and benevolent eye on the sports activities and results of all Monegasque sports associations. I try, as much as possible, to attend the sporting events to which I am invited and make sure to frequently receive sports clubs to take stock of their activities and give them my full support.

Note from the Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee: The comments made on this site by the people interviewed represent only and solely the opinion of their authors and do not commit the Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee.