One of biggest national or governmental program was workshops on antidiscrimination for clubs. It all started with the Italian Football Federation, when in 2011 the federation asked UISP (Unione Italiana Sport Per tutti – Italian Union of Sport for Everybody) to organize a training for club members of the federation (Serie A, Serie B, 1st and 2nd Divisions) on the issues of antiracism, discrimination and inclusion in professional football. The reply was positive and the training was conducted in two steps, one at the Italian national team headquarters (Coverciano) and one in Milan. These kinds of activities are very important to confront high level clubs with antidiscrimination issues.
In terms of work with sport clubs and associations, there were implemented cricket tournaments. Why cricket? Here’s an interesting story. In Brescia, the beautiful city and commune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy, situated at the foot of the Alps, there was a network of associations, active in work with people with a migrant background. The local committee of Brescia, together with UISP, realized that it was difficult to involve the strong community of Asian people (e.g. from Pakistan, Sri Lanka etc.) in the organized sport events. They found that the usually proposed sports, like football, did not meet the interest of the community and were not part of their cultural background. Thus, the group of organizations listened to the needs of migrants and organized, together with traditional football tournaments, some cricket tournaments, especially for migrants but open to everybody, as well as a female only tournament of “Elle” (a kind of baseball played by women in Sri Lanka, a very authentical interesting game). Later it resulted in the creation of a specific UISP area, namely the coordination of cricket tournaments in Rome. This project demonstrates that sometimes the lack of involvement of people in a project is not necessarily a general lack of interest in structured activities, but is simply due to the difficulty of detecting the real wants of target groups.
One of the most outstanding projects of migrants sport clubs in Italy the Liberi Nantes Football Club. FC Liberi Nantes is a football team in Rome which is composed of players, who are victims of forced migration. This is the first permanent team in Italy which decided to represent the population of refugees, asylum seekers and generally people obliged to escape from their country to survive. The colours of the team are blue and white, like the colours of the United Nations who sponsors them – is composed of 25 players from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Guinea, Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Togo, Central Africa etc. Because of a regulation in Italian football laws, a team composed solely of asylum seekers cannot play in official championships. FC Liberi Nantes finally obtained permission to play in the 3rd Category (the lowest) where they are exempted from the ranking, meaning that even if they win they have no possibility to gain points. It is a compromise to let people play and face other teams on the territory in official competitions. For two years, FC Liberi Nantes has also managed a touch rugby training programme for women (asylum seekers but also Italian), and trekking activities for everyone. The aim is to offer the possibility to play sport and to foster connections and inclusion between refugees and Italians to everybody.
Later UISP Genova and Macaia Association organized the third edition of the football tournament, called «Cartellino rosso al razzismo» («Show racism the red card»). This third edition saw the participation of 24 teams made up of social communities, associations, students, social workers, supporters and new Genoese from Ecuador, Morocco, Tunisia, Peru, China, Senegal, Nigeria and Romania. This third edition of the anti-racist tournament marked the continuation of a process which began in 2005 and which over the years demonstrated the ability to be an expression of a network of people and territorial initiatives regarding sport and football as an indispensable opportunity for community celebration, athletic competition, anti-fascism and anti-racism. UISP Genova also proposes a mediation initiative called «Maghreb Olympic Centre» founded in 1993 within the project. It is a functioning center today for children of second and third generations of migrants. The association is mainly active in Genoa and has about 200 members. The primary function is to carry out welcoming activities, providing a place where migrants can relax and have a shower, wash their clothes and where they have easy access to basic services. Along with these initiatives, sports initiatives are promoted in addition to recreational, artistic and musical workshops for adolescents.
The another tournament organized is called «Arcobaleni» («Rainbows») and played in Turin. This tournament involves mixed teams of migrants (heterogeneous teams not characterized by nationality) without gender differences and skills. It does not focus solely on playing football but is also about being together. «Arcobaleni» was born from the« Arcobaleni in campo», a UISP project for foreign and migrant communities. Many teams of different communities are established there and go on to participate in UISP national or local football tournaments. The project aims to revive the inclusive values in football practice like, for example, a time to meet and socialize, play and discuss. «Arcobaleni» is an opportunity to promote concrete actions to establish a culture of dialogue and respect for others, using the popular language of football, understandable in all the languages of the world.
To integrate migrant girls and women through sport into a local community, UISP Turin have opened for the area’s female Muslim community two centers, specifically for women and girls. The space is for women of every nationality and culture and provides courses, relaxation and children’s activities. The aim is inclusion, providing opportunities to meet and socialize as well as the enhancement of physical culture in general.
To raise the public’s awareness of the situation of refugees, as well as to facilitate cross-cultural encounters, in Italy every year is held one well-known event of the Anti-Racist World Cup, with teams participating from all over Europe. The Anti-Racist World Cup «Mondiali Antirazzisti» was created in 1996 as a challenge, in order to prove that coexistence between diverse cultures is possible and that multiculturalism is a vital and incredible resource for all. «Mondiali Antirazzisti» is a festive occasion of a non-competitive tournament of football, basketball, volleyball, cricket, and rugby. But it is also an occasion of music, debates, exhibitions and exchange of experiences. Those who have come to the «Mondiali Antirazzisti» have built up an informal relationship network, which has often made it possible to create trans-cultural projects and similar events all around Europe. They are open to everyone, there are no special rounds or barriers. The teams are composed of supporter groups, ethnic minority communities, antiracist and antifascist organisations from all over the world - the only rule - being mutual respect. Participants come from all over Europe and the world, with an average of 4.000 to 5.000 people attending. «Mondiali Antirazzisti» consists of a 5-day long event, which changes its venue each years, but always takes place in the Emilia Romagna region. After some years, people coming to Mondiali felt the need to reproduce the idea during the rest of the year and autonomously organized various anti-racist, non-competitive tournaments that finally came together under the umbrella of «Waiting for Mondiali». This development fits in perfectly with the aim of Mondiali i.e. an action spreading, reproducible event, which invites people not only to attend but to create. At the same time it is a perfect example of how an event born at regional level, with the real involvement of participants, can become a national and European event.
Another big event was the Weekend of Integration, for promotion of the coexistence of immigrants and natives in Italy. This action took place in 2009 in 16 cities, as the second phase of the «integrated corporate communication campaign on social inclusion of migrants» supported by the Ministry of Welfare to promote coexistence between legal immigrants and Italian citizens. In 8 cities (Milan, Rome, Turin, Genoa, Venice, Modena, Pescara and Catania), UISP organized competitions, tournaments and different kinds of sport activities, i.e. athletics, basketball, football, cycling, dance sports, mini volleyball, swimming, volleyball and table tennis.
As we can see from all these events, projects and cases, Italy did and keeps on doing big and meaningful work on inclusion of migrants through sports. This work can be used as a good model for other countries. Meanwhile, everyone can take these cases as an example and organize her or her own sport event, positively impacting on the community he or she is living in.