New figures from Monaco’s health department show that circulation of Covid-19 in Monaco has dropped again.
In the weekend ending Sunday 30th October, the Principality had registered 63 new cases of the virus.
There are currently 11 people Covid patients being treated at the Princess Grace Hospital Centre, four of whom are residents, while an additional two people – non residents – are in intensive care. The Home Monitoring Centre is following 36 people with mild symptoms.
The incidence rate now sits at 161, down from 222 a week ago, and 189 the week prior.
In the neighbouring Alpes Maritimes department, the incidence rate is 278 – lower than the country’s figure of 325.
Photo by Monaco Life
Interview: ASM director of performance James Bunce on the psychology of football
Once again, AS Monaco is at the forefront of evolution. Possessors of an avant-garde performance centre and recruiters of the first nutritionist in the Ligue 1, the club is now harnessing the “under-tapped” psychology of football.
“Everyone looks at sport from the neck down,” AS Monaco director of performance James Bunce told Monaco Life. The Principality club are taking steps to change that. Through recruiting two full-time psychologists – Emilie Thienot and Sophie Huguet, the club is harnessing “one of the most under-tapped advantages in football and even in the wider sporting environment,” says Bunce.
Whilst this almost certainly won’t remain the case for long, no other Ligue 1 club is currently innovating in this way by challenging the status quo of how health and sporting performance is perceived. Following Paris Saint-Germain’s dramatic capitulation against Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League, there was talk of the club recruiting a psychologist, although no arrival was ever officialised.
But Monaco’s approach, in line with the societal shift towards an increased focus on mental health, is based not on reacting to an issue, but on optimising and revolutionising an “under-tapped” facet of the game. Questioned by Monaco Life on whether the mental aspect of the game has been overlooked in the past, Bunce replied:
“I wouldn’t say that [physical well-being] is favoured deliberately over [mental wellbeing]. Everyone concentrates on the neck down and looks at sport from the neck down. We have become very good at monitoring the neck down: physical outputs, training loads, accelerations, sprinting, duels won. We’re really good at looking at that. Not deliberately, but I think we often overlook the mental side because it’s really hard to evaluate. It’s really hard to train and to teach, and to have objective moments in that.”
He continued, “However, even if you anecdotally look back and listen to players and coaches speak after games, a lot of them will talk about a mental attribute that either helped them or caused the problem. “We switched off, we weren’t at it, we didn’t put the effort in, we weren’t motivated”, and so it’s a really ironic situation where we talk about struggling with mentality, but we don’t train it to anywhere near the same extent as we do other things. So that’s why psychology for me is one of the most under-tapped advantages in football and even in the wider sporting environment. I speak a lot about this topic, and how we try and get this right.”
Innovation is engrained into the DNA of the Principality club, and the prioritisation of the mental side of the game is the latest manifestation of that. “Prior to my arrival, but also since Paul’s (Mitchell) and my arrival, we as a club have been trying to innovate and push forward. We were the first to get a full-time nutritionist, so we were breaking new ground there, and one of the first to invest in the performance and medical department. So, psychology for us is about getting a competitive advantage but also trying to develop our players to be the best they can be, that means on and off the pitch, trying to develop champions, trying to develop French national team and international standard players, and we know the mind has to be a part of that,” said Bunce.
Last season, it was manager Philippe Clement who took on the mantle to provide mental support to his young squad. Whilst it was a role that he gladly assumed, he is happy to be relieved of his duties with the arrivals of Thienot and Huguet.
“[The psychologists] are very important. I spoke with Paul and the president after the season and I said I thought it was important to grow as a club, for the players, for the staff, for everyone [to have them]. For me, it’s very important to have psychological help here, because last year I was the psychologist here, but in the end, I am also the man who decides. It’s important, because these are young players who were all big stars during their formative years but they weren’t really in competition, and now they come here and there is a lot of competition. That can have a mental impact, and an impact on confidence as well. We have to help the players, give them tools to channel their emotions,” said Clement in a pre-match press conference at the end of September.
Giving players the “tools to channel their emotions” is the key to this shift, as Bunce explained in greater detail. Asked how the club’s latest advancement would manifest itself on the pitch, he replied:
“To get an objective marker is really difficult. We speak to the players about their mental fatigue, about their emotions and things like that, but it’s not like a blood sample; it’s not like a metric that we measure like running speed. If we do a fitness programme we can say that they’ve increased lifting weight from 100kg to 150kg – that’s a 50% increase, they’ve gone from that speed to this speed. There isn’t a concrete, objective marker. However, what we hope manifests in the building is that the playing group begin to develop attributes that they didn’t have, that they might then use. So it’s not about seeing that in every moment they are using a mental skill, but about giving them a tool case full of ways to handle different situations.”
“If we are in a moment where we are 1-0 up and it’s the 90th minute and we need to see out the results, we have the mental skills to deal with that adversity, or with the motivation, or with the capacity to manage the game in a better way. What the psychologists are always trying to do is give the players the tools to cope with scenarios, and when they come to those scenarios, they are better equipped than they previously were to deal with them,” Bunce continued.
The in-house psychologists aren’t restricted to who they work with. “The way we have built the department of psychology is that it doesn’t only extend itself to players. Obviously, the players are hugely important and we want to develop their psychological characteristics, abilities, and traits, but we also wanted to develop the staff within the building,” Bunce told Monaco Life.
The sessions themselves will be specifically tailored to the individuals and their pathways and put on a level footing with physical conditioning. “The players can visit them any time they want. Being players, they aren’t here until 9pm. Some do it at different periods, some like to have conversations before matches to focus, some are working on different long-term strategies, imagery, motivation, leadership, and things like that. So those will be structured into their working week like a gym session is. It is no different than physical conditioning. Then we build the team aspects into the programme like we would an analysis meeting,” said Bunce.
Whilst the benefits of the club’s latest innovative approach will naturally be difficult to quantify, centre-back Guillermo Maripán believes that it will allow him and his teammates to “express [themselves] better”.
“Personally, I think that psychology is very important, not just in football. I think it will be a plus for the team, to allow us to be better, to think better, to express ourselves better. I think the two professionals will be very important for us and will help us a lot,” said the player.
The capacity to “be better, think better and express [oneself] better” would constitute a significant competitive advantage in a sport where success or failure hinges on such minor details. By tapping into the psychology of football, the Principality club are at the forefront of change. They may be an outlier for now, but they are unlikely to remain so for too long.
Photo by AS Monaco
First ever live tendon surgery performed in Monaco
A mother has donated a tendon to her rugby-playing daughter to repair a knee in a world-first that took place at the Monaco Institute of Sports Medicine.
In France, it is possible for a living donor to offer a lung, kidney or lobe of the liver, but until recently, it had been forbidden to donate a tendon.
With an operation that took place on 8th October at the Monaco Institute of Sports Medicine, that all changed: a team of surgeons from Monaco and Nice successfully removed a live tendon from a mother to replace a damaged one in her daughter.
The daughter, Kiara, a rugby player from Nice, had endured several surgeries on the knee in question and was back at the doctor’s to look into another when her mother, Patricia, suggested she donate a tendon to try and fix the situation once and for all. The doctor, Christophe Trojani, knee surgeon at the Institute of Surgery, Repairs, Movement and Sports (ICR) Nice, at first was hesitant, but finally came around to the idea, setting the ball in motion for this first-ever event.
The first hurdle to overcome was that in France, a ligament donation is not authorised. Doctor Trojani went to the medical authorities, who rejected his request. Undeterred, he took the case to court in Nice, where he won approval for the experimental operation. Despite the win, the French Biomedicine Agency still said no, so Trojani took the show on the road and looked across the border to Monaco.
Monaco steps in to support world-first operation
“We spoke to the Department of Social Affairs and Health and Government Advisor-Minister Christophe Robino, who gave us the authorisation to carry out the operation,” he told Monaco Matin. “Also consulted was the Monegasque advisory committee on ethics in biomedical research, who also gave a favourable opinion. This is how, 10 months later, the operation was able to take place.”
The operation was approved, but who was going to pay? As French insurance would refuse reimbursement to the mother-daughter duo, the Principality generously picked up the tab.
The procedure, though delicate, was straightforward.
“The operation is done simultaneously in two rooms with two surgeons, one removes and samples the tendon about to be inserted, whilst in another room we will reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament,” explained Doctor Trojani on a social media video.
Though there have been similar surgeries, such as one in Australia where a hamstring transplant took place from living donors, the tendon is a first.
What about the patients?
So far, so good according to the doctor, who noted there has thus far been no sign of rejection and doesn’t anticipate compatibility problems. “We will have to perform a CT scan and a control MRI in two months to be sure of this definitively,” said an optimistic Trojani.
If all continues as it is now, Kiara will be up and playing rugby again in no time!
Photo source: Institut Monégasque de Médecine du Sport
Hundreds attend Prince’s Foundation gala in Singapore
Prince Albert II and a cast of nearly 600 guests have raised an outstanding 1,600,000€ for ocean conservation at a themed ball organised by the Prince Albert II Foundation’s branch in Singapore.
The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore provided the backdrop for a glittering charity event put on by the Asian wing of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (FPA2) on Monday night. The décor and theme mirrored the ocean, with marine protection the main focus of the evening.
Prince Albert himself was in attendance as was Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and the FPA2’s guest of honour, who made a speech thanking the Prince and his Foundation’s local president, Jacky Deromedi, for all their work in the service of the environment.
The night was filled with entertainment including a performance by Singaporean superstar Hossan Leong and a pas-de-deux where Singapore Ballet dancers mimicked the movements of sea creatures. Additionally, French clothing designer Anne Fontaine held a fashion show to the delight of all.
The dinner menu was no less special, created by New York-based celebrity three-star chef Daniel Boulud, who put together a magical meal following the ocean theme and eco-friendly spirit of the night.
The charity auction raised an astounding 1.6 million euros (2.3 million Singapore dollars) and included such treats as an FP Journe Chronomètre Optimum watch specially created for the event, exceptional rubies by Faidee, a work of art by Marcos Marin, a ring by Alberto Vitale, stays at the Four Seasons and other leading hotels of the world, an Akar De Nissim table, an Anne Fontaine Haute Couture gown, and a special Martell Cognac created for the new year of the Chinese Zodiac.
Rain and snow have fallen in the south of France and Monaco, as the last remnants of Storm Claudio move through the region. But will this cooler weather last?
Thankfully, given the serious drought experienced across Europe this year, it does look like our lengthy Indian Summer has come to an end. In the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, barely two hours from the coast, snow fell for the first time this season on Tuesday 1st November. Further precipitation is expected across the region for much of Thursday 3rd November.
Although Météo France acknowledges temperatures are a little higher than usual for this time of year, the weather forecaster anticipates a return to average figures by the middle of the month.
Average daytime temperatures in early November vary between 17°C in the west of the French Riviera to 15°C towards Nice and Monaco. By the end of the month, temperatures typically sit at 9°C.
The hottest October on record
Following on from the extreme heat and dryness of the summer, this past October was the hottest ever on record in the south of France. The town of Marignane, 15km northwest of Marseille, recorded a staggering nighttime temperature of 21.9°C on 24th October, something never seen before for this time of year. Rainfall was also limited across the region; an estimated 70% deficit on previous years.
“This [recent] episode takes place in a content of visible climate change,” says Météo France. “Heat waves, in addition to being more frequent and intense, are arriving both earlier and later [in the year].”
Photo by Monaco Life
Crit’air: low emission zones and what they mean for you
All you need to know about low emission zones in France and the mandatory Crit’air certification system that comes into broader force in the south of France on 1st January 2023.
From 1st January 2023, drivers in Nice will need a valid Crit’air sticker to access some parts of the city. The low emissions zone has been in place since 31st January 2022, but from the New Year, there will be increased limitations on the type of vehicles permitted in the “zone” as well as a stronger implementation of the new regulations.
Best described as an air quality certificate, the Crit’air sticker system classifies vehicles as “green” for all electric or hydrogen-powered vehicles, or on a sliding scale of 1 through to 5 according to the “fine particles and levels of nitrogen oxide that they emit” for other types. They are obligatory for designated low emission zones and can be applied to additional areas if local authorities decide to introduce emissions-based traffic restrictions during periods of high pollution.
In Nice, the low emission zone covers a large part of the city centre, including the Promenade des Anglais, beginning at Avenue des Grenouillères and ending at Avenue Max Gallo, through to the Quai des Etats Unia and Quai Rauba Capeu. The Voie Mathis, Boulevard Carabacel, Avenue Désambrois and Boulevard Grosso also mark the perimeters of the zone, but are not included in it. As of 1st January 2023, only vehicles equipped with a valid green, 1, 2 or 3 Crit’air sticker will be permitted into the zone.
Toulon and Marseille have low emission zones in operation too, alongside other French cities such as Paris, Reims, Strasbourg, Lyon, Grenoble, Saint Etienne, Montpellier and Toulouse. In the Var, the area between La Garde and Six-Fours-les-Plages will be included in the Toulon low emission zone from the start of next year.
Drivers and vehicles found to be without a Crit’air sticker while in a low emission zone risk receiving a 68€ fine for “light vehicles” or 135€ for HGVs.
The stickers can be purchased via an online governmental portal that is handily available in English as well as French and German. To apply, drivers will need their vehicle registration certification, formerly known as the carte grise. The sticker costs 3.70€ per vehicle, including postage.
The official government website, certificat-air.gouv.fr is the only place where legal Crit’air stickers can be obtained.
Photo source: Alice Sidorova for Unsplash
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