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

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

At the head of the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports, Ms. Isabelle Bonnal has made the fight against doping one of the priority of her action, notably by developing a strong relationship with the Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee. The Director agreed to talk a little more about her role, her commitment to combating this scourge and, more generally, her commitment to sport in general.

In order to find out more about the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports, could you please Ms. The director outline its role and scope of intervention?

As a branch of the Department of the Interior, the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports is responsible for implementing the policy of the Government of Monaco in the following areas: :

  • Education, including teaching organization and administration, supervision of private education, and school and university guidance.
  • Youth, including the study and the implementation of actions such as communication with young people, associations and youth movements of the Principality.
  • Sport, particularly with the management of the Principality’s sports facilities, the implementation of school programs and the development of school sports in connection with the teaching of physical education and sports, is considered as a focal point for the Administration with the sports movement, the encouragement of the practice of associative sports, leisure and competition.
Many Monegasque students are also top athletes. How does the Monegasque education system enable them to excel both academically and athletically? ?

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, at the high school level, a special scheme called « Sport Elite », for students selected each year by the Monegasque Olympic Committee. They must practice a sports activity for at least 20 hours a week.

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

This year is the first year that 12th graders benefit from this particular scheme, the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports has obtained the approval from the Rectorate of the Nice Academy, thanks to the close relationship it maintains with the latter, so that they may take advantage of adjustments done in Physical Education and Sports tests for top athletes.

Equity, merit, will, surpassing oneself … doping goes against the sporting values so important for the structure and education of youth. 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, excessive financial stakes … What is your point of view, Ms. the Director, on this scourge that undermines the image of world sport? ? To face with the injunctions of show and performance at any price, more and more athletes, even among the youngest, are tempted to take the shortcut of doping. And it seems that moral recriminations do not affect as much as in the past. What message should be sent to the youth to dissuade them from resorting to cheating?s ?

Sport is a model through all the noble educational values it conveys. Doping is indeed a scourge against which it is imperative to fight. It tarnishes the image of Sport significantly and durably and is totally at odds with the values of sport such as loyalty, respect, fairness, self-control and self-improvement. In general, the utmost intransigence must be shown against those who use these alternatives. In my opinion, the main problem is that doping techniques are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to be detected. International bodies must therefore work collaboratively to establish common rules so as to preserve fairness in sports competitions but especially to protect the health of athletes. It is also necessary to support the efforts of stakeholders from the world of sport who go in this way. Many of them, such as professional football players, are role models for young people, so they must be actively involved in this  » anti-doping culture « .

At our level, it is essential to develop education programs for young people, by reminding them with strong messages that doping can destroy a sporting career and have irreversible consequences for health. Without reducing everything to a simple and single moralizing speech, I think it is important that our young people understand and assess the impact that doping can have on their future or that of their friends. They can, through their involvement and awareness of this scourge, become true 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 unfortunately too many examples! It should also be remembered that the side effects of doping substances can adversely affect sports performance.

I can also add that, unfortunately, doping remains an ongoing issue in areas other than sport. Indeed, when exams are coming, intellectual doping may be attractive for some students.
This is why the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports is implementing a general prevention for high school students to raise awareness about the dangers of psychotropic and addictive substances such as amphetamines, cocaine…

Without reducing everything to a simple and single moralizing speech, I think it is important that our young people understand and assess the impact that doping can have on their future or that of their friends.

Mrs. Isabelle Bonnal

The Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee regularly works with young Monegasques in schools and sports clubs to prevent the dangers of doping. How does the Committee work with the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports? On what specific points, should they work to further improve the prevention strategy?

 Conferences are organized for 10th graders, with the involvement of physicians from the Sports Medicine Center. The problem of doping is approached from different aspects (health, psychological, legal …). At the end of each conference, debating time is allocated for allowing students and their teachers to express themselves and interact with the speakers. Since 2015, the Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee has also been participating in the School Athletic Games, an event organized annually by the Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports, to raise the awareness of 7th graders. With the presence of the President of the Committee, an exhibition stand is run by physicians who engage in the rhetoric of questions and answers period and who distribute gifts and booklets to children. In order to constantly improve in this area, it is planned at the junior high school level, as of the next school year, and in the context of the Interdisciplinary Practical Teachings, to develop 3 sessions on the theme of doping for 7th graders.
It is no longer just a matter of providing information to students, but of getting involved as key players in dynamic projects.

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

 With two professional teams, each at the head of his championship, I guess we can say that the sport is doing very well today in Monaco. In the Principality, sport is a true tradition and a passion supported by its Prince Sovereign, the Princess Charlene and all the people. Monaco is a country focused on sport which, despite its small size, can be congratulated on the quality of the sports facilities available to all players and on a proactive policy of « sport for all » applied daily by the Prince’s Government.

Which sport (s) do you follow with interest?

I am a great fan of basketball and regularly go to Roca team games. For women teams, I can only congratulate the Monaco Basket Association’s National 2 team on its performances, as well as those of ASM Basketball Team. Football is also a sport that I am very interested in. The Directorate of National Education, Youth and Sports also carries out some actions in collaboration with AS Monaco FC. This year, for example, an AS Monaco professional football player visited a class where he was interviewed by students.

In terms of individual sports, skating and horse riding are disciplines I particularly like. In general, I always keep a watchful and caring eye on the sports activities and results of all Monegasque sports associations. I try, as much as possible, to attend the sports events to which I am invited and make sure to receive frequently sports clubs to provide an update on their activities and my full support.

Note from the Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee: The comments made on this website by the interviewees represent only and solely the views of their authors and do not imply the Monegasque Anti-Doping Committee.