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Exclusive: Phenix Limoges president urges French Federation to reassess priorities in order to grow

American Football is growing in France, but the national governing body needs to sharpen their focus on the grassroots if that’s to continue, admitted Phenix Limoges president Pierre Audousset.

In a few short months, the French Division 1 Elite Championship will embark on its 42nd season.

American Football has been around in France for decades and the sport continues to make waves around the country.

However, in order for the growth to continue, there are calls to beef up the support for local and grassroot clubs.

One of those clubs is Phenix Limoges who are preparing to compete in the third division of the French league pyramid.

Club president Audousset believes the French Federation are laser focused on developing the national side and the top domestic league – something which could become an issue if the grassroot level is left in the dust.

When asked whether he things the sport is growing in France, Audousset told Planet Sport: “I think yes. We have a European Football League, with a team in Paris competing. The Musketeers. This is great for development.

“We have a little problem with the Federation because the situation with them is complicated. They are little bit amateur.

“This is complicated for us because it’s affecting the calendar, youth development. They are very concentrated on the first division and on the national team. But not below that.

“I think to develop the sport in the country, you start with the base, the amateur clubs. You can’t develop if you don’t show interest there. I think that’s the principal problem with the French Federation. They don’t have any care for this level, it’s a principal problem.

“I think American Football is growing in France. It’s a great show but as a sport, there’s a lot of stops and it lasts a long time. We have a lot of TV channels in France where you can watch the NFL and follow the best. I think this is better for interest in football.”

Phenix will be looking to capitalise on their recent promotion to the third division as they target another successful campaign.

The club, which has been around for 30 years, is based in the city of Limoges, located in southwest-central France.

When asked whether Phenix can bag another promotion and continue their rise up the league pyramid, Audousset added: “In sports goals, this is for me the priority.

“Maybe not this year, but in two, three or four years this is possible. This year we have a division that’s less complicated than last year.

“I think we could be in play-offs. I think we need to aim for that. Why not? In a knockout match, all is possible. I think to climb to division two, we need to structure the club with more volunteers, helpers, coaches, referees.

“Our players are good, but we need more young players. If we have this, we can climb in two or three years. I think this is possible.”

Photo Credit: Phenix Limoges

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