In November 2016 I started following a group of rugbywomen from the Chantereine High School in Sarcelles, an impoverished low-income suburb located in the North of Paris. Last year they were one of the best newcomer teams of the country. In 2015 their coach Florian, started a program called 20 rugbywomen sarcelloises in which he prepares the team to international competitions. The main objective of this program is to use rugby as a way to limit the school dropout and to promote “citizenship values” in this areas.
As all the rugbywomen will quit the school next year, in June we made a photographic exhibition in order to highlight their engagement and commitment. 22 photos and 180 meters of prints were displayed in the walls of Chantereine. They trace the strength and pride (fierté) of being a rugbywoman.
For these young women, rugby is an empowering medium to overcome difficulties and gain confidence. It is also a tool to reverse stereotypes and change the image of young women living in French suburbs.
This project started as part of a doctoral research in photography, sociology and visual anthropology (EHESS, Paris). Thanks to the support of the SVA/RLF Fellowship, this project will continue in Colombia in 2017.
The ambition of this initiative is to continue this documentary project in other countries around the world.
This research was supported by the Society for Visual Anthropology/Robert Lemelson Foundation Fellowship, made possible by a generous donation from The Robert Lemelson Foundation.