Published on 10 June 2016
Campus Life
Dr Nicolas Chanavat (en bleu) et une partie des étudiants d'UPSud volontaires pour l'Euro 2016 au Stade de France

A sports event on the scale of Euro 2016 requires the involvement of 6,500 volunteers. And some good logistics.

“We publish our science research in publications, in books, but it’s great to see that our work makes sense in the field” *. For Euro 2016, Nicolas Chanavat, head of conferences at the Paris-Sud University, has taken charge of the management of some 1,200 volunteers involved at the Stade de France where 7 matches will take place. 

To ensure that everything is ready for the start of the European football championship on Friday 10th of June, volunteers needed to be recruited, assigned, integrated, trained and managed. A real “second job” with “impossible hours” for the researcher, but which sparked “plenty of ideas”. It is here that his skills in organising sport events come into play: already out in the field his studies during the Fifa Confederations Cup in 2003, he also participated in the “volunteers programme” organization during the 2005 Olympic Games in Turin. 

Today, Nicolas Chanavat is the director of the master’s course “Management du Sport” (Sports management) at UFR STAPS at the Paris-Sud University **. “Part of my job consists in professionally training my 80 masters students”, he explains. These students are employed by federations, clubs, sponsors, regional organisations, events organisation committees and sports media. Sports management is “very heterogeneous” and covers a wide range of skills: “There’s something for those who want to stay with theory, but also, and above all, for those who are happy to go into the field!”

His involvement in the organisation committee for Euro 2016 is also helpful in providing professional training to his students. “Of course I focused on recruiting undergraduate and master’s students from UPSud. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to be able to participate in an international sports event”. Nicolas Chanavat continues: “Being in the Paris region is wonderful, because all the sports decision-making bodies are here”. A golden opportunity to develop one’s network and build relationships with stakeholders in the sports business. And of course, to apply lectures to the real world. 

That way, “theory is really brought into practice”, the researcher enthuses. And the reverse is also true. Taking part in the organisation of such an event provides a unique opportunity to collect information and build networks with federations, media and commentators: “Just a few weeks in the middle of the action, and I already have enough to write at least one new book on the organisation of big sports events!”

* 10 years ago, Dr Nicolas Chanavat published a reference work on the management of volunteers in 4 languages (English, French, German and Italian): Ferrand A. & Chanavat N. (2006) Guidebook for the management of Sport Event Volunteers “How to manage human resources?”, Lausanne: Sentedalps, IDHEAP (181 pages).

** Paris-Sud University  is a founding member of Université Paris-Saclay.