Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body
On Friday, June 14, 2019, over 450 people, including personalities from sport, business, politics, local authorities, and education gathered at the Yacht Club for the Monaco Sports Academy’s (MSA) first event under the theme Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body. Twenty centuries ago the Roman poet Juvenal wisely said: “Mens sana in corpore sano” and is still valid today. At a time when sporting achievement knows no boundaries; the competition is increasingly fierce; and where excellence has become a philosophy for life, it is more important than ever to support the next generation in their personal search of the sports’ holy grail.
The Monaco Sports Academy was launched in December 2018 during the YCM Awards, under the presidency of HSH Prince Albert II, alongside YCM General Secretary Bernard d’Alessandri, and the man leading the project, Philippe Ghanem, YCM board member. “We need to give these young athletes a hand to take them to the highest level,” said Philippe Ghanem. (Photo below: Prince Albert II with Philippe Ghanem and Bernard D’Alessandri @Sidney Guillemin)
Forming sports ambassadors one athlete at a time
The Academy was created exclusively for Monegasque athletes, and its mission is to form the citizens of tomorrow by helping them reach their full potential both personally, and in the academic and sports careers. These Monegasque athletes, who will become ambassadors of sports values, will be representing the Principality at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the Youth Olympic Games in 2022, and the ultimate dream will be to become part of a multidisciplinary team to compete at the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Presented by no other than David Ginola, the former international French footballer, the event was an opportunity to unveil the project to an informed public of high profile personalities. “For talented young people, turning your passion into your career is one of the best things in the world that could happen,” said David Ginola.
Sports values were at the top of the agenda in a day that started on the water with demonstrations by the young academics in various disciplines. In parallel, the front-runners in the 67thRolex Giraglia race were crossing the finish line. It is the second time the Principality has hosted the end of this legendary offshore race, an amazing setting for guests to see for themselves the potential of the young Monegasque athletes.
The afternoon was dedicated to workshops run by men and women who have reached the top of their game. Silvio Arrivabene, involved in numerous editions of America’s Cup, and Yohann Taberlet, French Paralympic skier, Team World Champion and bronze in the super-combined, were among those taking part in the first session ‘Success stories from athletes competing at the highest level and their training center history’. Silvio Arrivabene summed it up: “Having a structure like the MSA is fantastic, as it is the future of sailing.”
Others who added their vision were Maxime Nocher, 11-time kiteboarding World Champion, and Claire Tétard, member of France’s national sailing team. An engineer at Thalès, Claire is one of those champions who has managed to pursue success in sport at the same time as carving out a career: “One of the keys to success is knowing the objectives, prioritizing them and working out how to attain them.”
The second session was entitled: “Anticipation, perseverance, investment, frustrations, failures, entourage influence: the importance of mental as well as physical strength to win medals”.Stefano Tirelli, who is the mental coach behind the Complementary Sports Techniques method, and has worked with many well- known teams and individual athletes, opened the debate.
Another mental coach Lisa Mashal, exposed a different approach based on neuro-hypnotic relaxation to reprogram the mind in a positive way. A sine qua non to success in sport, mental strength is nothing without perseverance, a nuance explained by Hülya Biren, a former professional basketball player in Turkey’s national women’s team.
A very constructive afternoon ended on the highly anticipated workshop entitled “The Sports Academy – a tool for success by encouraging the transmission of a universal language focused on excellence”. Hülya Biren highlighted the link between sporting and academic success. Now the Premium Customer Relationship Manager at SBM (Société des Bains de Mer), in her youth she was captain of the national women’s basketball team in Turkey, illustrating how her career success was made possible because she reached a certain academic level at school. “This aspect of an athlete’s life is essential,” said Ravy Truchot, founder of the Paris Saint Germaine Academy Florida, and the man behind the first International Centre of European Football.
The Monaco Sports Academy was keen to emphasize the ongoing year-on-year investment required to lead future generations towards a committed and active life, where they draw on all their resources attained from the values that top-level sport. As Yohann Taberlet concluded: “It is important to achieve your goals, but the most important thing is the journey as a whole that we make, for it is that which makes the man.”
A concept also championed by Dr. Riccardo Ceccarelli, a sports doctor and founder of Formulamedicine that specializes in 360° psychological support. Initially applied to F1 drivers, the method is now being used by other disciplines. Psychological pressure, stress management, and brain function are key elements for high-level mental preparation to achieve excellence.
YCM President, HSH Prince Albert II, joined everybody at the cocktail by the pool to culminate a memorable event. Monaco’s synchronized swimming champion, Sophie Potel, offered a superb demonstration of her discipline, and the festivities continued late into the evening.
“Sports build good habits, confidence, and discipline. They make players into community leaders and teach them how to strive for a goal, handle mistakes, and cherish growth opportunities.”Julie Foudy