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Exclusive: Phenix Limoges President admits next generation is key to growing the sport in France

Planet Sport talks exclusively with the President of American Football club Phenix Limoges, Pierre Audousset, about the state of the game in France and his prospects for the Division Three side.

Soccer, basketball, rugby, handball – those are generally the sports mentioned when talking about France. Today, however, our focus turns to American Football. No, we're not joking. 

While American Football may not be one of the most popular sports on the European continent, it’s certainly gathering pace, popularity and a host of keen individuals wishing to participate. The scene in France is no exception.

The country’s top competition is the Division 1 Elite Championship which was originally established in 1982. With the sport gaining popularity over the years, more competitions have followed.

Phenix are a club who are preparing to compete in Division Three next season. The club, which has been around for 30 years, is based in the city of Limoges, located in southwest-central France.

With few teams in their proximity, competing can be a challenge – especially when it comes to away days.

Club President Pierre Audousset told Planet Sport: “The number of clubs in France is little. Travel for matches is very long, three hours minimum.

“Developing American Football here is difficult because the club spends a lot of money on travel, on equipment. It’s difficult to survive.”

Despite the challenges, Audousset is excited about the future potential of Phenix – especially with an influx of new players.

He added: “This year it’s a mix. We have a group of old players, around 15 guys. Last year and this year we signed a lot of new players.

“We want to develop the club and we have this need for new players. I’m not that old, I’m 30, but we need the next generation. This is the solution.

“We try to develop a young team, we try to develop flag football which is touch. It’s a good start in American Football because we can teach the basics without contact.

“For young people it’s better because it’s no contact. It’s mixed so girls can play as well.

“Maybe if we have enough players we could start a women’s section. Why not? I think this is a solution for the club to evolve. It’s one of my objectives, one of my goals to implant the club in the city of Limoges.

“For the club to become great for the city, and for people to know we exist. I speak with a lot of people, I tell them I play American Football in Limoges and they’re surprised that we exist.

“This is my principle goal, to develop the club, the image of the club.”

Audousset himself has enjoyed his own personal journey in the sport which started over a decade ago. 

“I started as a player, with the current defensive line coach,” he said.

“I met him at University and he played quarter-back. We became best friends and he told me to go to Phenix. Ten or eleven years ago.

“I went to watch a match and after I said, this is for me. I went and I started training and never stopped. For my studies, I travelled to Bordeaux to Paris. But I always came back to play for Phenix.”

The club are currently training ahead of the new season which is set to get underway in early 2024.

Photo Credit: Phenix Limoges

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