The Societe Generale Athletic Club: a branch for champions!
During the period between the two world wars, the Societe Generale Athletic Club (CASG) worked to promote women's sports in France. A welcome initiative that has stood the test of time. Here we take a look back at an unsung piece of the Group's history.
Founded in 1903, the Societe Generale Athletic Club (CASG) was born of a desire by the management to cultivate a sense of community between the bank's employees and to make it easier for them to get involved in physical activities. During this era of amateur sports, the club soon became one of the best sports associations in Europe and a true incubator of champions. This was undoubtedly helped by the spread in popularity of sports after the First World War. Staff were invited to fill the ranks of various regional teams, and to compete in competitions flying the Societe General flag. The CASG had up to ten thousand members between the wars. In a break with the gender codes of the era, the bank's employees, mostly typists and telephone receptionists, began to form women's sections from 1919. The first were established in Paris and Lille, after which Marseilles, Lyon, Bordeaux and Besançon soon followed suit.
The women's teams were involved in football, athletics, basket-ball, volley-ball, tennis and field hockey. They generally trained on Sundays at grounds provided by the CASG management. In the capital, the Parisian divisions benefited in particular from the conveniences of the Jean Bouin stadium, the financing of which was covered by Societe Generale. One of the most dynamic teams was without doubt the Marseilles women's football team, which between April 1927 and June 1929, played matches to promote women's sports in Provence, with the support of their management. In 1930, they reached the final of the French championship in a performance that saw several players, such as Marie Calvet, selected for the French team. Many other colleagues became famous, collectively or individually, in other disciplines. Madeleine Martin was selected for the Olympic Games in Amsterdam in 1928, and for the Women's World Games in Prague two years later. In 1925, Edith Alauze smashed the record in the 83 metre hurdle, while the Besançon basket ball team were a force to contend with in their regional tournaments. The Paris field hockey team was also ranked among the elite, as were the tennis team which in 1930 reached the final in the women's tennis championship.
During the inter-war period, the management of CASG held a women's sports day every year without fail in Paris, Marseilles and Lille. Even then, it understood the positive impact this could have on Societe Generale's image and the need to put outmoded social conventions behind it. A tradition that has withstood the test of time, as reflected in its sponsorship today of the Evian Masters women's professional golf tournament, which was created in 1994, and of women's rugby.
Photo montage 1: Marseilles CASG women's football team
Photo montage 2 left to right and top to bottom: women's volley ball team in 1926; Besançon CASG women's basketball team; women's tennis team in 1923; Lyon CASG women's tennis team in 1933
© Archives historiques Société Générale