How one association relies on Rugby Without Borders to break down barriers

The youngest is 17, the oldest 43. Their names are Junior, Momin, Pauline, Lionel. Congolese, French, Palestinian or Gabon, they are forty to meet every Monday evening to share a touch rugby workout that is good for body and mind. Originally, No Limit is a great, festive and well-organized rugby tournament open to all, the 5th edition of which takes place this weekend in Launaguet. But since 2018, the association has another vocation: the integration of people in exile by offering them a playground coupled with a real path to professional integration.

Junior and his teammates in training. – M.-D. Lacour – 20 minutes

Here we play with five, like the fingers of one hand. No performance logic. “We let off steam and above all we have fun! “, says Pauline Louge, responsible for the social-sports part. But if their happiness of playing together is communicative, shadows sometimes pass behind the smile. “I cried every night. And watching the news had become impossible,” says Junior softly. The Congolese citizen, who has been living as a teacher in Ukraine for almost ten years, fled the war a few weeks ago. No-limit rugby “gave him strength” to face that second uprooting and move forward. Now he’s helping others benefit by volunteering to teach French to Ukrainian refugees in Toulouse, some of whom in turn join the rugby team.

A double accompaniment on the ground and much further

Newcomers are often very reserved. According to Pauline, “The collective helps them gain confidence and develop their soft skills [compétences générales] and her level of French, the first step in making her “recruitable”. Then we try to teach them the codes for a job interview or a successful first day at work. The association goes even further: it has established partnerships with several Toulouse companies and aims to provide them with qualified and motivated candidates. “Most of the players have foreign diplomas, which are difficult to enforce in France,” specifies Pauline. We help them find their way to a job that really suits them and makes sense, not just an unskilled job. »

Some come for the sport. Lionel, an accountant, came in after an injury: first dismissed from Touwin Rugby Club, who play a classic game, he joined No Limit because touch rugby (without tackles) is less violent on the body. But it’s not the only reason. “I came from Gabon in 2006 for my studies. I know the feeling of being far away from home, the exile, the administrative stuff, the constant fear of not being okay, he explains. I was touched by the club’s message. In addition to “a real family”, 17-year-old Hanry has also found “his sport”. Formerly a footballer in Cameroon, the youngest to play on the field soon becomes a winger in a club with XV.

Do not insert a limit

“In France, I love cooking, cheese… and gender equality,” says Momin, very seriously, with his big smile. Palestinian, he came to France three years ago without speaking a word of French. Hard to believe when this very “ideal son-in-law” young man unfolds his journey in Molière’s language with humor and sensitivity. “It’s not easy to understand the little things of everyday life when you come from a completely different culture. Here, for example, people talk very loudly on public transport, he laughs. At first I found it fascinating, I said to myself: how lucky they are so comfortable! »

He alone is living proof that the integration process works. First a player, the team helped him find permanent employment as head of the local chapter of Ovale Citoyen, another club committed to inclusion through sport. At the same time, he continues no-limit training and uses his large network to recruit new players.

For the curious, Monday night’s No Limit training sessions at the Maison du Rugby des Argoulets are open to all. The association does not charge any membership fees. Because as Momin says, “Money for what? We pass the ball and good mood here. You just have to come with me! »

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