PRESS RELEASE 14.01.2004


Death of a pioneer

January 14, 2004 - Maurice Petit (the father of Gilles) passed away on January 1, 2004 aged 99. A pioneer in the sport, Petit discovered Volleyball in 1924 at the University of Colombia in the United States where he studied for one year. On returning to France he translated the American rules of play which have been adopted today (six players, net at 8 feet, court at 162m²).

In 1930 he introduced Volleyball to the training camp Air et Soleil in Franconville in the Val d'Oise where the best French and Russian players were soon found.

Six years later as a friend of Edouard Dechambre, Petit contributed to the creation of the French Volleyball Federation but refused to take a post.

In 1937 he married Monette, who played for BEC in Bordeaux, at the Racing CF and the PUC in Paris and became a regular member of the French national women's team alongside Sally Dujardin from 1946 to 1949.

In 1947 Petit created the training camp Club du Soleil in Carrières-sur-Seine in the Yvelynes where he developed all the international players from Paris during the 1950's.

In 1949 he created the Centre Hélio-Marin of Montalivet in Gironde with Albert Lecocq where Volleyball became the top sport. All the premier teams from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands visited regularly during the 1950's and 60's. One can confirm today that Montalivet is where the three countries have learnt the skills which makes them play at such a high level today.

Having always refused an elective post with French Volleyball, his influence was nevertheless great. Starting with his family where his wife was an international and his son a junior international, he went on to create a Volleyball magazine for registered players in 1975 before writing on Volleyball for L'Equipe in 1976.

Maurice Petit, who was present at the Congrès de Tours in 1921 which saw the break up of the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, is a man of many talents having been the pianist of Ray Ventura in the 30's and one of the precursors of jazz in France and the cameraman for the celebrity photographer of the 50's and 60's Jean Renior. But he is also a man of one culture and of one exceptional faith. His influence on French Volleyball, which still remains very discrete, appears today most influential.