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October 29, 2019

All In Academy

Paris, France







JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Hello, everyone. Thank you for attending this conference further to the invitation we sent you. I'm here with a lot of eminent attendants. They will help us to accomplish things.

And I am here to announce that I will be part of the All In Academy. It was founded in 2015 -- 2014, actually, by Thierry Ascione. Today, I want to take part and help the academy evolve.

I would like to thank the president of the French Tennis Federation, who is present today, and also Mr. Jean-Michel Aulas, who is one of the pioneers in terms of sports sponsorship and also French tennis with his club the Olympique Lyonnais but also the ASVEL Club, recently.

That is the gist of the announcement. Of course, they will get into the nitty-gritty of the subject matter. I'm delighted, but I'm also proud to be part of this adventure with Thierry. We have talked about it for months now, and I'm delighted to be part of the All In Academy adventure.

THIERRY ASCIONE: Yes, it's a great day today. I created this academy six years ago. We were a bunch of friends. We tried to be useful for a few professional players. We tried to do interesting things.

I created this academy for people who were important for me as a man and as a player. It is all based on emotions. We have a lot of motivation. We will have some time ahead of us in the years to come, not right away, because we already have two, three missions ahead of us to accomplish in the meantime, but we wanted to do that together.

I can realize what a great impact Jo can have when he speaks about players, about professionals. He has done outstanding things in his life. Nothing can replace this experience as a professional player.

It is a great thing because, with this academy, we have very competent trainers and coaches. And we thank Mr. Jean-Michel Aulas, as president of my dearest club of football, but also Laurence Fautra. Thank you for welcoming us. And also Patrick Bouchet is going to be a partner and a friend in this new adventure. It is a huge project, so we need to be a lot of us to deal with this.

As for myself and a bunch of others, we will deal with the matters on the ground. We're very proud. We're delighted. And we will thank Mr. Aulas, of course, because without all these efforts from the OL Group and the town of Decines, this project wouldn't have been a reality.

It is a difficult path. It is hard to have such exceptional and outstanding facilities. Mr. Aulas is sitting next to us today because he's helped us to develop this academy. We're trying to help players as much as we can. We have some results, so that helps us to feed our fire.

And I'm delighted to work with Jo, because we've been together for eight years now, and that's great to capitalize on such adventures. And I would say that what we accomplish is quite good, so it's good to keep the good teams to work together to do a good job. And we can't do that without the Federation and working with exterior facilities.

We have space. We coach Valentin Royer and Elsa Jacquemot, who was third in the Masters. I can't fund their structures, but they need money and the Federation gives them grants, and they have the possibility and they can actually attend.

BNP is also helping for some projects. But without the Federation, a lot of tennis players would have either the choice to go to the Federation or go to have a coach without paying him for a long time.

For a long time, tennis players have been trying to have partnerships with travel agencies. Nobody could do it, so we're very proud to make it happen.

The work is starting now, and it is great to do it in the OL City, three kilometers away from where I grew up, where my parents live.

It's quite hard, because I'm not far from this football stadium, and I'm quite crazy with the recent results that happened in the football season. It's great to be next to my dearest Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. This adventure, without him, would not have been the same.

Thank you for all of you to be here today and to listen to all the stupid things we have to tell you right now.

JEAN-MICHEL AULAS: Thank you, Thierry.

Hello everyone. Today is an important day. We're very proud to be in such a wonderful infrastructure. We're delighted to be sitting next to great champions such as Jo-Wilfried, and Thierry as well. I know that he is strongly involved in the success of Jo.

Thank you also, dear President, because you're supporting us. I would like to thank all the people supporting us.

And why is this project born today? Well, as you might know, we are in a world which is a world of passion, and we try to give two new dimensions, and they are intertwined.

The aim is to be on an equal footing with the others in the world. First of all, its values. We cannot have a great performance without values. And, secondly, we need to have a business model. Because if there are difficulties, values and business model enable us to continue in the adventure and to achieve our goals and to become one of the best with all the competitors around.

We started off with a project, a private stadium. I remember that the official audit office was wondering about it. And now we talk about the Decines site and the OL City infrastructures. They are now considered to be role models.

Then we continued in that path and we made sure that the stadium be integrated in the life of sports but also in the environment of the high-level sportsmen with private academies in the football world. But also we've had encounters with Tony Parker but also with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Juninho. This was unfathomable a few years ago, and now it has become a reality.

It's not only for myself, it's not a personal dream, but it's also a dream for France at large, for the Olympic Lyonnais, but also for the French sports to be on an equal footing with what is taking place in the rest of the world.

We have an investment of 350 million for the stadium. We also have infrastructure for 50 millions, as well, to make sure that in the future we have assets.

And we also have a 150-bedroom hotel. We also have a digital museum and a street art gallery so we can find the popular aspect of football. We also have an ultramodern sports center, medical center. We also have a lab for blood and saliva tests, because we can see that there's a lot of saliva research and tests that are made, and it's actually working 24/7.

And amidst what is being done right now, we have developed a certain number of offices in the Groupama Stadium. We have a congress center so that companies are there 24/7 as well.

And we are creating also a recreational center for football or billiards, for a lot of things, so that hundreds of thousands of visitors can gather in this area.

There's also the adventure with the ASVEL, because ASVEL needs infrastructures and facilities, and they need a significant investment. The public couldn't invest such an amount of money. This is why we did it so that they can play in the Euro League.

So the aim is also to make sure that we have a collateral for our investments, because this is a closed loop, and so we manage to have amortization in the mid- or long-run.

And so we manage to meet with people who have great talent, ideas, the sense of innovation. We opened our center of 57 hectares to find the best in terms of performance, in terms of infrastructures at the service of the business model, which enables us to see the future with confidence.

It is also listed on the stock market. So we can develop, in a sustainable way, 310 million turnover last year, 78 million of cash flow, to fund everything that we are doing. That means that in the mid- and the long-run, we can be part of what is the best right now, and this is why we're here today.

LAURENCE FAUTRA: I can see that gender equality is a reality.

I'm very happy to welcome you, Jo, Thierry, for this virtuous project.

I am a delighted mayor. I'm a mother and mayor who is delighted. Why? Because we are about to welcome the elite, the talents of tomorrow in the field of tennis. You will be able to train them, and I hope that they will shine and showcase the values that we support but also universal values.

I know that you have a great heart, the two of you. We have discussed it during lunch. I know you will be a great, great gateway with all the suburbs of the city, and you will inspire the young people who might think that they cannot have access to that sport.

Thank you for bringing excellence in our area. Our city is a city of 30,000 inhabitants near a great metropolis such as Lyon. You are going to enable Lyon to shine, Rhone-Alpes, but also France at large on the international forum.

Thanks to you, Mr. Jean-Michel Aulas, for everything that you are bringing in the world of sports, but also employment. Thank you for your dynamism. I know we are making a great team. We've been making a great team now for six years.

This small city is going to be the place to be, so long life to the academy. And I will be alongside you to help you make it a reality, with a benevolent eye because I am a woman.

BERNARD GIUDICELLI: So as Thierry was saying, as opening words, we have changed our sports model. There is no opposition between the private and public worlds. The logic is such that the center of our attention is the child, May it be for the league, the committee, the Federation, or a professional structure.

I would rather talk about professional structures rather than private structures, because even if we are a public service entity, the logic is such of a private sector.

So we're very happy to welcome you today. I would like to congratulate Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for his match yesterday. You made us live a thrilling match that shows that you are able to face champions of your league. It was great to show what you are capable of.

I hope that Gilles is going to do the -- oh, he's just stopped. Okay. I should have kept silent.

All right. It's the exception that confirms the rule, let's say.

As Thierry said, we've had the world championships in Chengdu. A federation such as ours cannot assess itself on the basis of professional players having their own infrastructures and their own operating methods. But we have to report to the clubs, and this is based on the achievements of our junior players.

We have shown that there is no good or bad generation. We just need to be consistent. And as Pierre has said recently during an interview, we have to be consistent. Amidst the girls, they won the junior championship. And we had Clara Burel, as well, who was No. 1 last year. With Diane Parry, we're No. 1 again. And we'll have something good coming up also with Elsa Jacquemot.

We've had two players coached by the Federation and others by Thierry's All In Academy. This shows exactly what we want to accomplish. We're all French. We're all trying to make sure that our young players reach the summits of tennis.

This is an environment of great professionalism, trying to find values in terms of game, but also in terms of sports, but also in terms of business model, and I think this is wonderful.

But also Jo's willingness to give a legacy to the young generation is a wonderful thing. This has materialized with the partnership that we have with the BNP Paribas, with the Young Talents Team. And it's very important. Everything that he says is important.

But if this is in line with the logic of professionalization, it is all the better, because we can see that tennis has changed significantly over the last 20 years.

We start very soon. We are not going to compensate the young players. But in terms of rhythm, density, as soon as they are 12, if we want to be on an equal footing and have a competitive edge with the others -- well, we can see yesterday that Rublev was 22 years old. If you look at his statistics at 14 years old, he already had an international career. He was already a professional.

And this has been missing in France. This has been mentioned in his interview. We want to remedy that. I think we are adjusting our path in the right way, and I am convinced that it's skills that create resources, not the other way around.

We need to have the right skills in terms of training. But also, with Jo's experience, this helps us to improve tennis. There was an article recently on French players in tennis, and this was interesting because this shows that we are a federation that can produce and has to produce skills and know-how.

A lot is at stake here. We are changing our training model to generate skills and know-how.

The aim is to have hubs close to the families' houses but also to have skills hubs. This is important. This is for the young generation. We have changed our path. The goal now is to focus on the young generation. If they want to opt for this or this center, they will be supported depending upon the goals that will be expected from them.

So long life to this project. And I don't think we have to hope, because we already have seen tangible achievements. We now have to scale them up. And as Pierre Cheret was saying, consistency is the key. We need to make sure that the young generation can be on an equal footing with the others on an international level.

Shall we answer questions?

Q. Jo, what will be your role exactly? Are you a shareholder of the project right now? In the long-run, will you be a co-manager? Will you coach?
JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: In the long-run, as Bernard was saying, the aim is to help French tennis. Should I do it through the Federation, through All In, or on an individual basis, nothing changes.

My role is to be able to give my legacy to the young generation and everything that I have learned throughout my career to try to help them achieve their own goals quicker and faster, to give my opinion and to share my experience so as to help them find the right path and move faster in their career.

Q. Mr. Aulas, is tennis something natural besides football and basketball or is it only a business goal?
JEAN-MICHEL AULAS: I never played football. I never played basketball. I'm going to disappoint you. But I did play tennis.

I like discovering talents. Tennis is something I discovered when I was very young and then there were wonderful events throughout the world that I discovered. Here, I'm delighted, for instance. You meet outstanding athletes but also wonderful mindsets.

I did realize it when I saw it in Lyon for the Grand Prix de Lyon. There were wonderful highlights. And when we talked about the project, it's just like when Tony Parker talked about his own project. Right away, it clicked. But I never played football. This is why I've been president of the OL Club for 32 years, I think.

Q. You have said that this academy is created to rival foreign academies, but in France we already have the Mouratoglou Academy, and I would like to understand how it stands out from this one. What is the selection system? In which way will it differ from the academy of Mouratoglou?
THIERRY ASCIONE: I'm not saying that we are going to be in competition with the other academies.

Q. Of course.
THIERRY ASCIONE: Academies are infrastructures. But in the end, what is important is human people. It's a matter of people. We know that those who are coached here in our academy are undergoing important moments of their lives.

We left home at 12 years old. For instance, I left in Poitiers. He left Reims. And sometimes this creates problems because we miss our families. And if they need to be closer to their homes, we need to be able to offer proposals with Mr. Mouratoglou, Rafa Nadal, Lyon.

Our main goal is to make sure that when we accept players, there will be no selection because we cannot pretend to claim that one is good and one is not good. When parents come to see me, I say, Okay, give me six months. And if they come back every day, if they smile, if they have a real ambition, then we can say. I cannot say in 24 hours this guy is good or no good.

Everybody follows their own path. My ambition five years ago and even more now is to try to propose new skills, new options for families to achieve goals. Because we know that the young players are professionals at a very young age. They have to travel all around the world at 12 years old, at 14 years old, and it is frightening.

And it's thanks to our partners, Lacoste, Tecnifibre, that I manage to have a little bit of money left to wrap up a budget. We're lucky.

We are going to have an outstanding infrastructure, but we are going to bet on humans, on values, and the aim is to make the young generation be on a fast-track so as not to waste time. Because with Jo's stamp of approval, we are certainly going to speed up a lot of processes.

Q. Concretely, is it going to be a boarding school? What kind of infrastructure will there be? Is it going to be a school?
THIERRY ASCIONE: There will be accommodations. There will be lessons. There will be all surfaces. There will be everything so as not to miss anything.

We know that competition is harsh. So, yes, we will have to have everything to help the young generation be young professionals at a very young age, and this is frightening.

Q. It's also for the family; right?
THIERRY ASCIONE: We'll do everything we have to. If the families need to come over because they don't want to leave their child 600 kilometers away from them, if it is important for their family connection to make sure that emotionally they're okay, we'll do it. I'm going to say that as a basic principle we'll have it. No one is identical. Each project needs to be customized.

If some of them are staying only for ten weeks and we think that in ten weeks we can give something, we're going to do it. I refuse some of them for 15 weeks because I thought that in 15 weeks I cannot give them anything.

We're humble, but we are going to do our utmost after a small all-around tennis audit to see if we can develop something and offer something that is different.

If we don't have the skills and we have the best infrastructure, it's just four walls in the end, you know?

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: I think that tennis is a driver of a lot of educational values. In our centers, we are going to train the champions of tomorrow.

I think it is important to say that one player that we will coach will not necessarily be amidst the top 100, top 50, top 10, but he can still go to university in France, in the U.S., depending on his level. And we can train champions, but we can also train champions of life, let's say, people who can actually live outside the environment of tennis and evolve better thanks to tennis.

So the academy will definitely focus on high- level tennis but also help those that are of a lower level to make them involved in life.

Q. You said that the structure exists already. I understand that it will be in Decines. There will be real estate property. How does it materialize?
THIERRY ASCIONE: So we have a structure in Dardilly. We rent land. We already have 20 players in Lyon and 9 coaches. So in terms of financial profitability, it's not the best because we have a lot of coaches for not a lot of players, but we already have results. We need to be helped. We need to have partners because we can't make it on our own.

But we'll have accommodations. We have no choice. If they want to come from all the corners of France, we have to make sure that they have accommodations.

We have the structure in Paris. And when I talk about human structure, I think it's great. We have 13 coaches for 20 professional players, including Barrere, Nicolas Mahut. And we have the structure in Lyon, and we are developing another one next to Nice, which will be an interesting one, especially, that will have outdoor courts. They can prepare during winter outside and start as soon as April. So we can have something that is consistent with their tennis project.

Q. What is the deadline?
THIERRY ASCIONE: We'll see with Mrs. Fautra and then Mr. Aulas. Let's say 2022.

We need a lot of time. We need to develop a lot of infrastructures. It requires time. But we already have young players to take care of. So we need to be careful. We need to develop the project, but we need to also pay attention to already very ambitious young players.

Q. We can see it with Canada or Russia that you coached Svitolina. It seems that the French touch is gaining a lot of momentum. Do you feel it with the All In Academy? Is it part of the means of development to have maybe foreign players coaching French players so as to have a synergy?
THIERRY ASCIONE: We'll have all the synergies possible to try to coach French players. I've seen what some great players could do over the last eight years already. We are going to try to help French players. And then, if foreign players consider that the French touch is fashionable, why not? We can coach foreign players.

But the first goal is for those that we see grow up like Elsa, for instance, who started two years ago and she was on her own. I trained her while we were actually building the clay courts. Barrere was 900 worldwide, and he wanted to stop tennis.

So there's emotions, and this is why we're here in the long-run. There are a lot of emotions. This is how I work. Otherwise, I would have done something else. When we see that we have two players that are number three in junior at the masters when they were, Elsa was not even classified. As for the other one, he grew up in Serbia. As for Greg, everyone said that he wouldn't make it, and now he's 80th worldwide, and he's a great guy.

So we're winning it all. We have everything to win by being involved in this. We have fitness trainers whom we have known for 15 years. Patrick we've been working with many years now. We have young people that encounter difficulties and sometimes we speak on the phone and they say, Okay, it's hard. Can you help us to pay for an additional flight? And this is why President Aulas is supporting this.

We want to be really useful, and I think I try to give everything I had. Maybe with another coach he would have won a Grand Slam, but, you know, we had fun.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: We didn't only have fun. There was sometimes it was hard. It wasn't fun all the time.

Q. From a financial point of view, you said it was hard. Can you talk about the shareholding of the academy? Is the Federation going to give money to support you?
THIERRY ASCIONE: Are you going to give money?


THIERRY ASCIONE: Mr. Aulas sold us a parcel of land. He's not a shareholder in his own land. So we are going to use everything that is surrounding that parcel of land. We will benefit from it.

And then we're three shareholders, Patrick, Jo, and myself in this project. That's straightforward. And then the Federation will help us on the individual projects with grants and subsidies of players, but that's not a matter of structure. If they go to us or to the DTN, it's a matter of budget and the individual choices of families. That's how it's done.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: And for us, it's very important that the President should give us the possibility to be in contact with his stadium, his sports facilities, because this is a sports environment, and we will certainly be lucky to benefit from this synergy to accomplish great things.

It's an honor to be there, according to me, and this will definitely have a huge impact on our academy.

Q. I'm going back to you wanting to help French tennis. What do you feel about the Davis Cup? How do you see Croatia and others?
JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Well, I'm focusing on my tournament here. Of course I still have the Davis Cup in the back of my mind, but I want to focus on my game here. I want to be as much confident as I can and win as many matches as possible when I do the Davis Cup. It's going to be a new format, a very different format.

We will all discover how it will turn out. It will be interesting to see how the competition will unroll.

Q. There's a young French player who is going to meet a No. 1, and he's without any coach. What should we tell him before playing such a great match on this central court tomorrow for his first tournament? What message should we convey? I'm asking to both of you.
JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Well, I have no recipe. I cannot say anything. But I would tell him, Believe in yourself, first of all.

Often we're told, Oh, my God, you're going to face this guy. It's going to be hard. He's No. 1. He's this and that. But all in all, he's still a human being with problems just like others.

Those that succeed are those who believe in themselves and those that do something. The most important thing is to be on the court and to think whatever he thinks is best.

What I could tell him is, Oh, your forehand, your backhand, but at one point you're not there anymore. When you want to beat a No. 1 player, you need to have something extra, and this is all about self-confidence.

THIERRY ASCIONE: Well, first of all, you have to manage your emotions. You're playing Djokovic at home in a court where you always dreamed to play. So we need to draw upon your emotions and you have to be careful with your ambitions and humility. Corentin has a lot of capacities. He's already won against great players, but Djokovic only loses four times a year and it's important to keep that in mind.

Those who won only did outstanding things and repeated such outstanding achievements. If he's giving it all at 95%, it won't be enough. If he's giving 100%, maybe it will happen. We need motivation. But it should be wonderful, because I was lucky enough to play a few times there. It is exceptional and it is different.

He needs to be very determined. He needs to be humble and say, if I win, it's going to be exceptional. But to reach such exceptional goals, he needs to do things that he doesn't do generally and to push his limits further. Because, otherwise, he will have problems.

He's on his own at his choice. I don't know why he's alone. I don't know if a coach could help him win that match, but people close to him could help him get in a mindset that would help him play the tennis that he wants and also to have the right composure, because emotions are often a problem. You need to regain focus very often.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: It's a roller-coaster.


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