Football without barriers, a football team for migrants and Italians

“As a child, I spent my holidays in Calabria every year. My brother Marco and I were the “foreigners” for whom friends competed when teams had to be formed for futsal tournaments. Today, after a long time, the foreigners, the real ones, those who came to Italy not for holidays but to try to build a better future, have given me satisfactions that I would not have expected, not only in terms of sports “.

Pietro Milano explores memories of the past to explain the project he leads today. Father of Benevento, mother of Soveria Mannelli, Milan is the president of the OSA (Olympic Soccer Academy) We’ll Come United, an amateur football team that from next year will play the First Category championship in the provinces of Avellino and Benevento. Nothing strange so far but there is one peculiarity: the football club has made hospitality and integration into the world of sport its raison d’être. A project that was born in 2019, as a “rib” of the “Sale della terra” Consortium, a network of cooperatives that deals, among other things, with the management and implementation of projects aimed at the insertion and integration of migrants.

So far, five nationalities are represented in Osa We ” ll Come United: Ghana, Gambia, Mali, Nigeria and Italy. For the past two years, foreigners and locals have been sharing, in addition to the plot and the dressing room, what is also a life experience. “We started with a lot of difficulties – remembers Milan, who was also the first coach of the team – with few resources and a club that was not structured as it is today. There were difficulties not only at the sporting level. Ours was seen as the “black” team. We have received many offenses but our guideline has always been one: to respond on the pitch with commitment and results. Sometimes we also came across cases of “reverse racism”, in which we were told that since we were, in fact, the “black” team, everything was allowed on the grass, as if the referees or whoever had a fence look at us ».

This just happened was the real “first” season of Osa We’ll Come United. The blockade of the championships by the pandemic interrupted the project that was restarted as soon as possible, giving Milan and its boys, now coached by coach Leo Martone, unforgettable satisfaction. An exciting journey, consisting of ten consecutive victories that earned him the final that sanctioned the promotion to the top category. “It simply came to our notice then. People have come to understand that ours is a project open to everyone, even non-members. We expected, but did not expect, to be able to involve so many people. Today the team is made up of young people who orbit around the host projects, beneficiaries of the different Sai projects or members of the clubs of the municipalities belonging to the Network of Small Host Towns, others who have been part of it. others who have been part of it. they had different paths but thanks to word of mouth and the results obtained they have come closer to our reality. With us, non-registered people are trained to whom we have opened the doors based on the founding principles of our project: integration, acceptance, loyalty and respect. Let’s just say that, in our own way, we have become a benchmark. ”

The positive response also came from the public: “In the last game – Milan remembers – there were more than 600 people in the stands. With the Serie A and B stages eliminated, this is no small feat for a city like Benevento. “A reality that offers stories within stories, that of Osa We’ll Come United Yankuba Darboe from Gambia, who arrived in Italy on board a ship in 2014, is a cultural mediator in the Pietrelcina Reception and Integration System, and a former beneficiary of the UPS project in Roccabascerana. Yankuba has become an example on and off the field. the emblem of how selflessness and the desire to win, in a sporting and non-sporting sense, can lead to great goals.

Like those who have set out to achieve Milan and Osa We’ll Come United: “Obviously we will keep our feet on the ground – adds the president – from next season many things will change, we will face many more trips outside the province “But we also want to do well in this new challenge by staying firmly rooted in our inspiring principles that we want to take to all the fields in which we play.”

Milan’s last words are reserved for “his” Calabria: “Mine is a very strong bond with this land. As a child, as already mentioned, I spent my summer holidays there, today as soon as I can I will visit relatives or come to Benevento. I attended a sports management course at Unical and there I was able to meet other people and establish new relationships. I feel very Calabrian, especially when it comes to stubbornness, a quality I associate with my background. Who knows that one day our team will not be able to step on the fields of Calabria, it would be great to bring our sporting and life experience even in those places to which I am closely linked and with which we share many of the issues that pursue us with the our project “.

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