The Thonon les Bains “Black Panthers” were founded in 1987 by current club president Benoit Sirouet and his predecessor Jérôme Garnier. Since its creation, the club has grown from a small band of football enthusiasts to an organization that features both flag and tackle teams in several age categories. The senior team currently competes in France’s first national division or the “Casque de Diamant” – literally translated as the “Diamond Helmet”. The season runs from February until June and features a 10 game schedule, a national semi-final, and a championship game, all played under NCAA rules.

Thonon les Bains is nestled between Lake Geneva (the largest lake of western Europe) and the northern Alps. With 35000 residents, it is the largest of the French cities on the shores of the lake. Its central location provides an ideal springboard for brief sightseeing excursions: Thonon is only a 20 minute drive from Switzerland and a one hour drive from northern Italy. Geneva’s international airport (50 minutes) offers several low cost flights to major destinations across the continent.

Today, with the support of the city of Thonon, the club benefits from some of the finest facilities of any American football squad in all of Europe. While field-time is at a premium throughout Europe, Black Panther squad benefits from exclusive use of a beautiful grass field with an adjacent locker room. Over the years, the club has made solid investments in field equipment and now boasts of three sleds in addition to all the requisite light practice material (shields, bags, ropes, etc). Only a stone’s throw from the field are the club’s office, clubhouse and bar, a small video room, and the equipment room.

Club won numerous trophies, and among their successes are:
– Champions of France, First Division (2014)
– Champions of France, cadets (2014)
– Champions of EFAF Cup (2013)
– Champions of France, First Division (2013)
– Champions of France, juniors (2004, 2011 and 2012)
– Runner-up of French First Division (2007, 2009 and 2012)
– Runner-up of EFAF Cup (2009)
– Runner-up of French junior championship (2003, 2006 and 2007)
– Champions of France in flag football – U-18 – (2005 and 2006)

European competitions help our team grow as they provide a solid experience against good teams – this is the main objective (growth) for us. Opening against Carlstad is exciting; they have a great program and have been one of the top teams in Europe over the past several years. We are very much looking forward to the challenge. The serious downside to the F4 structure is asking two teams to play two games within 48 hours – this aspect must be changed in future competitions if we are serious about player safety“, said Black Panthers’ head coach Larry Legault.