Volunteers: their commitment brings life to the clubs

Volunteer article

It’s where people learn to play, where they practice, where they make progress, where they meet and measure themselves against other enthusiasts. The club is at the center of all these moments in the life of a bridge player. If the clubs are so active, so numerous and so dynamic, it is often because an army of volunteers is committed to making the game shine.

We met some of these volunteers

They are young or older, active or retired, advanced or moderate players. They are all committed to making bridge thrive. Volunteering, for the love of the game. André Simon, Thomas Bertheau, Charles Antoine and Huguette Matta are among them. Franck Busselier, a former volunteer, has found a new career in bridge. André Simon, 70 is the president of the Ajec bridge club in Chaville. This former engineer discovered the game at the end of the 1970s within his company. In 2009, at the time of his early retirement, he joined his current club. “I am very familiar with scoring software, Bridgemate and duplicating machines. So, at the start, I mainly helped with IT issues and software maintenance. Then I was asked if I wanted to be a director and so I took courses to become a director. Then I was asked to teach a beginners’ course in the evenings because we lacked a teacher, so I got my diploma from the French federation to become a teacher.” And in 2019, after ten years in the club, he was elected president.

“My credo is that a club is only strong if it has a bridge school”
Thomas Berteau

thomas berteau

Thomas Bertheau is 29 years old and has already spent ten of them with the club “Les Templiers” in Coulommiers. As an adolescent, he organized Belote tournaments and the fell into the Bridge cauldron when a friend of his family advised him to try the game. He enrolled in the bridge school of the club near his home and has gotten more and more into it ever since. “I quickly agreed to take responsibility. First I joined the club’s office and then, in 2015, I took charge of the school.” Each week, in addition to his work in insurance, he devotes about ten hours of his free time to these activities.


In Longeville-lès-Metz, at the Rollon Gadelle club, Charles Antoine, 82 has been giving part of his time for nearly twenty years. At the time, he accompanied a friend who wanted to take lessons. He takes an interest in the game. Then the club.

“One day, some students asked me if I could take care of them. So I passed the teacher’s exam and taught them”, he explains. Today, he no longer teaches but he is part of the club committee and directs tournaments.

Huguette Matta, 77 has been playing bridge since the late 1960s. In 2005, she met a member of the Biarritz Côte Basque Bridge during an informal party with a neighbor and joined the association shortly after settling in the seaside resort in the South-West of France. Six years ago she took over the bar of the club.

“It happened gradually; I first helped out and then helped a little more. If you want a club to work, you have to give”
warns the dynamic lady in her 70s

huguette matta

It is indeed her flawless investment that led Franck Busselier, alongside whom she works, to become a bridge professional. He too pushed the club’s door when he moved to the Basque Country. He never left. “I got involved as a volunteer. Then, when we saw there was a real need, I was asked to give lessons and that meant a professional reorientation for me”, he confides. Now he is employed as president of the club, but still teaches and also organizes the International Summer Bridge Festival of Biarritz. He defends the co-existence of professionals and volunteers to bring bridge to another dimension.

Friendliness above everything

Volunteers talk over and over about this concept, you find it on home-pages of clubs, on the list of reasons given by the federation to encourage the practice of bridge… “We are interested in the game as such but it ‘s important that we want to go to the club, that there is a nice atmosphere” confirms Franck Busselier. This mission, which is absolutely necessary, begins at the door of the club – open to everybody. And by integrating advanced players as well as beginners.

“On Mondays and Thursdays, we have “accession” tournaments that are specifically for people who are starting bridge. The notion of directing is not the same as for other tournaments, nor is the rigor. We are always keen to introduce people to the game gradually”, says Charles Antoine

With the same idea in mind, the Chaville club organizes a mishmash tournament once a year where experienced players pair up with beginners. A way to not put anyone off, and ensure a long-term commitment from the members. Traditional feasts (like coming together to drink the first red wine of the year for “Beaujolais Nouveau”, or eating a special cake (“La Galette des Rois”) for epiphany, charitable actions and parties of all kinds are the perfect occasions to bring together their members around a bridge table and a meal.

We remain open all summer. Every Thursday we organize a barbecue before the evening tournament. The club became well known for this, there are players from Paris who travel here because of it”, continues André Simon. In his club in Chaville, they do many little things to generate a good mood. “At each tournament we offer hot drinks and sweets. “And on Wednesday morning, breakfast before the tournament is offered to our players.” Behind the bar, in Biarritz, Huguette Matta has a place in the first row to see how important these moments of getting together are. “After the tournaments, it ‘s the third half. We go through the deals, we do our postmortem, we take news”, she smiles.

Bridge club de Chaville
@Ajec bridge-club de Chaville

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