Water jousting as a way of promoting integration

The Société des Joutes Raphaëloises in the port of Santa-Lucia in Saint-Raphael, encourages young people to engage in water combats regulated by very precise rules – for the greater pleasure of spectators.

Environment and Biodiversity

France Saint-Raphaël, Var, France

Didier Molland

7,000 euro to the Selection Committee at 2006/07/04

Project leader

Société des joutes raphaëloises

"The club is organizing itself and welcoming an increasing number of young people from the disadvantaged neighborhoods of Saint-Raphaël and Fréjus. It needs to be supported."
Didier Molland

Water jousting, a sport that dates back to the Old Egyptian Kingdom some 4,500 years ago, is one of the oldest water sports in the world. Taken up by the Greeks and the Romans and practiced throughout the Middle Ages from the Mediterranean basin to the North Sea, the sport has come down to modern times virtually unchanged. The principle is quite simple – the champions of two teams, each installed on the prow of a large rowing boat maneuvered by their teammates, tilt against each other, the aim being to cast their opponent off the prow into the water for an involuntary dip. Wherever it is practiced, from Alsace to the Gulf of Lion, the combat is regulated by a great many very strict rules, which makes the sport an ideal way of teaching self-discipline and respect for others.

From 6 to 25

In Saint-Raphael, in the Var département, the Société des Joutes Raphaëloises takes advantage of the sport's strict regulations to help young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods in the metropolitan area of Saint-Raphaël and Fréjus. By teaching them the ground rules of team sports, a taste for surpassing oneself and others and the pleasure of taking part in a competition, the organization also shows them how to integrate successfully in society. It is meeting this challenge with growing success: 216 young people from 6 to 25 currently belong to the club and regularly take part in jousting. Every year at the beginning of September, the Saint-Raphael Water Jousting Championship is organized in the port of Santa-Lucia, to the greater pleasure of local residents and the last summer visitors.
The organization sought the help of the Veolia foundation to purchase a new vehicle for transporting young people without personal means of transport from their neighborhoods, usually located some distance from the sea, to the port every week. The vehicle will also come in useful for information campaigns in the more disadvantaged neighborhoods. Water jousting at Saint-Raphael looks to have a fine future ahead of it.... another few centuries at least!