On the occasion of the WWI centenary, the Esprit IETA association wished to pay homage to France’s war dead. In the summer of 2018, a group of ENSTA Bretagne military engineers, along with two war wounded, traveled by bicycle from Brest to Villers-Carbonnel in the Somme.
They chose their route and final destination for their symbolic and historic importance: WWI soldiers and Clément Kovac (a French Brigadier killed in Afghanistan in 2011) lie at rest in the Villers-Carbonnel cemetery, and the site represents a link between the combatants of the Great War and those of today.
Along with their cycling efforts, the group launched a crowd-funding campaign with proceeds going to Le Bleuet de France, an association that assists veterans and victims of war.
The awards ceremony, organized by the national military sports center (CNSD), was held on October 8 at the Military Academy and was attended by numerous French government and military VIPs. Geneviève Darrieussecq, Secretary of State for the Ministry of the Armed Forces, Roxana Maracineanu, Minister for Sports and General François Lecointre, Army Chief of Staff, were all on hand to celebrate military sport in all its forms. Alain Bernard, Olympic swimming champion, former top-level military athlete and sponsor of this year’s ceremony, was also present. CNSD head Hervé Piccirillo opened the awards ceremony with a reminder of sport's key role in the military.
6 awards, including the Coup de Cœur, were handed out during the ceremony.
The Coup de Cœur award was presented by Monsieur l’Ingénieur Général Benoît Laurenson, Director of Human Resources for the French Government defense procurement and technology agency (DGA).
"It’s an honor to receive this award from one of our highest-ranking superiors for a project that we feel so strongly about. It was an opportunity to meet and work with people from very different backgrounds. My thanks go especially to Arnaud and Moïse, the war wounded who worked with us on this project, and also to our sponsors, the staff at the ONACVG (national office for veterans and victims of war), our donors, etc."
—Damien, military engineering student and President of Esprit IETA
The evening also provided the students with an opportunity to present a €3,000 check to the ONACVG president, a symbolic moment that reflected the project's success.
Announcing Esprit IETA as winner of the Coup de Cœur award for the "700km by bike from Brest to Villers-Carbonnel" project.
Esprit IETA presenting their check to ONACVG president Ms Rose-Marie Audoin.
Presentation of the Blessés Militaires (War Wounded) award to the French team scheduled to compete in the Invictus Games in Sydney from October 20 to 27, 2018.