|The Principality, the crossroads of the world of sport
with its world-renowned events - the Monte Carlo Rally, the Grand Prix, the International
Tennis matches and so on - is also a think-tank for the official bodies which govern
A LITTLE HISTORY
Towards the end of the nineteenth century there was already in existence in the Principality a "Regatta Committee" which was replaced in 1888, on the initiative of a group of a dozen Monégasques, by a sports association established to promote, encourage and develop water-borne sports such as sailing and rowing. The first Monégasque sports association was formed under the name of the "Société des Régates de Monaco" which is today the "Société Nautique".
In addition, the Principality of Monaco, rejoicing and full of euphoria as a result of the extraordinary success of the new town of Monte Carlo and banking on the future with confidence, gave its support to the still embryonic motorized sports :
1904, the first speedboat meeting;
1910, the take-off from the Quai Antoine I of a biplane, as fragile as a child's toy, but at the controls of which Henri Rougier was to realize the exploit of flying over the nearest spurs of the Alpes-Maritimes;
1913, the first "hydro-aeroplane" meeting (ancestor of the seaplane).
Similarly, other sports including golf (with the opening in 1910 of the first course on the slopes of Mont Agel), tennis, fencing, shooting, boxing, football and athletics all took wing and on the eve of the 1914-1918 war, the sporting activities of the Principality were already exemplary and were to continue :
1928, opening of the Monte Carlo Country Club and Monte Carlo Beach with its Olympic-standard swimming-pool;
1929, the first automobile Grand Prize race;
1939, the inauguration, by Prince Louis II, of the stadium which bears his name and which was immediately used to stage the last University World Games before the Second World War.
With the Liberation, sport came into its own again. Its development in all fields was at lightning pace and from then on Monaco possessed a range of sports clubs and federations recognised by international bodies.
THE GREAT INSTITUTIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS
- At Government level, the Service of National Education, Youth and Sports which comes under the Department of the Interior, and under whose control is placed the whole company of sports groups (nearly 20 federations and more than 50 associations), works in close collaboration with the National Sports Commission; this latter body oversees the functioning of all these associations and decides the amount of annual grant to be allocated to them.
- At the Town Hall, the Municipal Sports Service.
- The Monégasque Olympic Committee created in 1907, to which are affiliated thirteen sports associations : shooting (the oldest, formed in 1927), athletics, basketball, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, judo, sailing, skiing, swimming, tennis, skeleton-bobsleigh and volleyball.
- The General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) has its headquarters in the Principality.
- The International Association for Sport without Violence also has its headquarters in the Principality. H.S.H. Prince Rainier III is the President of the Committee of Honour.
-The International Athletics Amateur Federation (IAAF) has transferred its headquarters from London to Monaco in 1994.
The Louis II Stadium in Fontvieille, which has replaced an earlier stadium of the same name constructed in 1937, was inaugurated on 11th and 12th May 1985 by H.S.H. Prince Rainier III. After 40 months of work, this extraordinary sports complex with a total capacity of 20,000 places, with its architecture particularly well integrated into the site of the new area of Fontvieille, contains : a football pitch, an omni-sports hall which accommodates basketball matches among other sports, an athletics track and an Olympic-standard swimming pool as well as many rooms for special training : body-building, boxing, fencing, gymnastics, judo, martial arts, squash, table-tennis, weight-lifting and a gymnasium for schoolchildren.
The Rainier III Swimming Pool, which after providing the venue for many swimming competitions, has now become a leisure swimming pool where wrestling matches are held every summer over the pool itself.
The Monéghetti Stadium where training takes place and handball matches (National III Division) and volleyball matches are held.
The St Dévote gymnasium, particularly in use as the headquarters of the Femina-Sport Club, champions of France in the team competition in rhythmic and sports gymnastics for two consecutive years (1988 and 1989).
The courts of the Monaco Tennis Club on which Davis Cup matches are played.
The Abbé sports area which, besides tennis courts and a volleyball area, contains a bobsleigh training track.
The football training ground at la Turbie reserved for the players of the 1st Division and where a great number of matches of the 2nd National French Championship are played.
SPORTS FEDERATIONS, CLUBS AND ASSOCIATIONS
The vast majority of sports are represented in the Principality. Some are affiliated to national federations while others are members of the Monaco Sports Association (ASM) which has fifteen sections : aikido, athletics, amateur and professional basketball, boxing, amateur and professional football, handball, karate, rugby, swimming, triathlon, volleyball, weightlifting and yoga. Other groups include the Automobile Club de Monaco which organizes the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Monte Carlo Rally, several boules clubs, the Monaco Rifle Club, the Ecurie de Monaco (Rallies, hillclimbs and circuits), Fencing and Pistol-shooting, Etoile (gymnastics), Femina-Sports (rhythmic and sports gymnastics), the Motorcycle Club, the Monte Carlo Ski Club, the Société Nautique de Monaco (rowing), the Tennis Club (whose first team plays in Group 2 of the Davis Cup, European Zone, competition), the Archery Company, the Cycling Union, the Yacht Club (sailing and powerboat racing) and the Monte Carlo Golf Club to name only the main sporting activities.
THE CALENDAR OF THE MAJOR SPORTING EVENTS
JANUARY : The Monte Carlo Car Rally. Created in 1911, in the reign of Prince Albert, it remains one of the key-competitions in the World Championship, thanks in particular to the myth of the "last night" and the forcing of the Turini Pass which is more often than not snowed up.
FEBRUARY : Primo Cup (sailing), reserved for IORs and monotypes.
APRIL : Monte Carlo Tennis Open (hard court) preceded by the Ladies' Cup. The first great competition of the season on hard courts, it brings together for a week each year the best of the world's players at the Monte Carlo Country Club.
Monte Carlo Squash Open. One of the best furnished with prizes in the world circuit which brings together in the omnisports hall of the Louis II Stadium the elite of the international squash headed by the Pakistanis, incontestably the best players of this sport in the world.
MAY : F1 and F3 Automobile Grand Prix. On a formidable circuit designed to pass through the heart of the town by Anthony Noghès ; all drivers agree in saying that Monaco represents the finest and hardest of the races in the World Championship. And the one the best covered by the media ...
Offshore Grand Prix. Reserved for boats of Class 1 only, the "F1s of the sea", it brings together the world's best engaged in the Continental Championship.
JUNE : International Swimming Meeting.
First Round of the Davis Cup (Tennis) (European Zone, Group 2)
International Veterans Championship (Tennis)
JULY : Start of the French Football Championship (Division 1). For several seasons, the Monégasque team has played a leading role and strengthened its presence at the European level (quarter-finalist in the Championship Cup in 1989, semi-finalist in the Cup-Winners Cup in 1990).
AUGUST : The "Herculis" international athletics meeting. Created in 1987, it served as a framework two years later for the final of the IAAF/Mobil Grand Prix competitions which in the Louis II Stadium saw the victors' places go to the Moroccan Said Aouita in the men's competitions and the Romanian Paula Ivan in the women's events.
Seven-a-side Rugby Tournament.
SEPTEMBER : Start of the French Basketball Championship (National 1) and Handball (National III).
World Championship Push Contest.
OCTOBER : International Triathlon.
NOVEMBER : International Fencing Tournament.
DECEMBER : Laser World Championship (Sailing).
THE SPORTS POLICY OF THE PRINCIPALITY
The great principles which guide the sports policy of the Principality comes under three main headings :
- Taking part in the international sports calendar by organizing large-scale events, such as the final of the IAAF/Mobil Athletics Grand Prix competition whose success made it possible to raise the Herculis to the first rank of world meetings.
- Putting sport within the reach of all the residents : the very great number of sports associations subsidized by the Monégasque Government or Municipality testifies to this desire.
- Developing school sport (there are more than 5,000 young people) by favouring the individuals who might be spotted thanks to a special arrangement of school time within the framework of Sports and Studies cycle (an experiment being carried out in tennis and swimming).