Piazza Vittorio Cricket Club: when sport helps social inclusion

Piazza Vittorio Cricket Club: when sport helps social inclusion

skaWhat we are going to write about today is a bit out of our standards, but it is a news worth spreading.

We are going to talk about a crowdfunding campaign for a documentary, a very particular one which is based on a true story set in Rome.

I will start by saying that “IT’S NOT CRICKET!”, and you have to read this exclamation in the sense given by McGraw-Hill Dictionary, namely “it is not acceptable!”

What is it that is not acceptable, or better, that is no more acceptable?
A very thorny answer must be given to this question. It regards immigration and immigrants, racism and social inclusion, and consequently it is about militant and productive antifascism, and forms of protest
which are so unique as to bring a movie director to decide to film a documentary about this story.

Let’s try to explain all these issues form the beginning.

This is a real story about Piazza Vittorio Cricket Club, a glorious cricket team that no longer exists, and about the attempt of re-establish it.

Here in Italy we are getting to know cricket thanks to the immigration streams that permit us to understand that soccer, together with few other mainstream sports, is not the only activity practiced during the weekend!

Actually, cricket is the second most practiced sport in the world and it is the most important sport in very populated countries such as India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. Here we have the first precious gift given to us by the immigration flows, that is the mixture of customs and habits of different cultures, the realization of a Melting Pot (that became popular thanks to Israel Zangwill’s play, first staged in 1908!).

Edoardo Gallo was the coach of Piazza Vittorio Cricket Club and, during an interview released in 2011 for the newspaper La Repubblica, he explained how the team was born and what are the principles behind the project. He affirmed that “the team was founded in 2006 and, at the very beginning, we have worked on the territory, trying to involve all the citizens from Piazza Vittorio neighborhood. Then we extended the possibility of participation to every young folks beyond Piazza Vittorio and we started organizing cricket games.”

Then he fully explained why they chose cricket among dozens of possible sports: “cricket itself has distinguishing features which foster respect for the opponent and for those who are different from us and far away from our culture. Our aim was to bring together these guys of different nationalities, and to realize a racial and culture integration through the cricket”.

The other coach, Federico Mento, thanks the UISP of the city of Rome and his project “Lo sport per tutti – Sport for everybody”, through which it was possible to use sport as a tool for the social inclusion of foreign communities in the Italian social fabric.

How does this beautiful story go on? In 2013 the project has stopped because, as we can read on the crowdfunding platform webpage, “the young men have now turned eighteen. Some of them play on pick up teams or in the streets, while others have stopped playing. The experience of the Piazza Vittorio Cricket Club today is just a memory, but it has been an important cultural training. At the end of this cultural experiment, all the boys sadly refused to integrate with the Italian culture and society. Almost all of them went back to their original communities, Bengali with Bengali, Sri Lankan with Sri Lankan etc. I would like to investigate the experience of everyone involved and try to understand why this project failed”.

So, the admirable aim of Jacopo de Bertoldi is to raise 15,000$ in order to film a documentary about this great story, and to make the audience look between the lines and think about diversity, inclusion, and issues of latest political relevance, such as the growth of neo-racist political parties in the European Union (as Matteo Salvini’s italian Northern League proves). And to make everyone scream: “IT’S NOT CRICKET!”

For the ones who have read the 2008 novel “Netherlands” by Joseph O’Neill, a parallel could easily be made.

Actually the main character in the book can be compared to all the people who want to give voice to the Piazza Vittorio Cricket Club social experiment. At some point in the novel, Chuck says: “All people, Americans, whoever, are at their most civilized when they’re playing cricket, and what’s the first thing that happens when Pakistan and India make peace? They play a cricket match. Cricket is instructive, Hans. It has a moral angle…. I say, we want to have something in common with Hindus and Muslims? Chuck Ramkissoon is going to make it happen. With the New York Cricket Club, we could start a whole new chapter in U.S. history. Why not?”

We do want to stop political and social criticisms against such important and innovative experiments. Not with arrogance or violence, but by making people meditate on the issue of diversity.

In my opinion, touching the issue of diversity could only implement the awareness of being citizens of the world and, most of all, social relations can be tighten up thanks to initiatives like this.

This is a clear example of an intangible, cultural Commons, that must protected and enhanced.

These guys deserve more attention and full support; here you are the link to donate.

Please, share!

Pictures for this article have been taken here, and here. Please, follow the links for further infos.

Pubblichiamo l’articolo per supportare la lodevole iniziativa del regista Jacopo de Bertoldi, il quale sta raccogliendo fondi per realizzare un docu-film sulla storia del Piazza Vittorio Cricket Club, una squadra romana di cricket nata nel 2006 e le cui avventure sono sfortunatamente terminate nel 2013.
Lo scopo della creazione della squadra, supportata dalla sezione romana dello UISP, era quello di favorire la coesione e l’inclusione sociale, tenendo bene a mente alcuni temi fondamentali come l’antirazzismo e l’antifascismo come argine ai movimenti politico-sociali in espansione in tutta l’Unione Europea.

Intangible Cultural Heritage: Protection and Valorization

Intangible Cultural Heritage: Protection and Valorization




Katia Ballacchino, professor and anthropologist held the meeting about the theme of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Community. Specifically, an attempt was made to discuss ‘an anthropological analysis of the recent conventions starting from ethnographic case studies – a research methodology that provides technological activity by the individual’. This analysis passes through eight years of study. These years proved to be crucial for our country, for they started from a milestone decision of UNESCO of 2003, which recognized intangible goods as proper Cultural Heritage

What is an Intangible Good? It covers a whole range of practices, traditions, folklore, customs, which a community perceives it as a belonging. Moreover, it does not remain static over time, but it changes and becomes dynamic as the community itself changes. Some examples are the Festa dei Gigli di Nola, Santa Rosa in Viterbo, Candelieri Sardi and Carresi del Basso in Molise. First experiment of a participated national inventory has been when the Ministry for Cultural Heritage asked to think about the UNESCO candidacy as an indirect form to catalogue Intangible goods in their new consideration as proper assets. The idea arose from the debate on the food culture in the vicinity of Lake Bolsena

What is the advantage of gaining recognition  from UNESCO? It is basically a matter of intangible value. It brings a series of advantages ranging from commercial to political. Just think of how easily a promotion can be built on it, or how strong a political campaign can be starting from this success. As already said participation is today fundamental. Pompei, UNESCO World Heritage since ever, is paradigmatic. In the last years it has been registered a loss of interest from the community.

Ballacchino tell about the case of Festa dei Gigli of Nola in Campania. During the fest eight obelisks (heigt 25 meters and weight 25 quintals) are built and destroyed each year by the community on a self-financed base.  They represents the guilds of crafts and an homage to the saint Paulinus of Nola. Today’s obelisks are the result of an evolution of this tradition. St. Paulinus of Nola returns to the city on a boat to save Nola and its citizens. Nola has no sea , but historically extended to Torre Annunziata. Malformations of the shoulder due to the weight of the Gigli (Callus of San Paulinus). Such a disturbing image increases the idea of ​​belonging to the community. The physical sacrifice to carry each Giglio is an honor for every man. In the Campania region a processes of dissemination of the festival occurred. In many others community (Barra, Brusciano, Casavatore, Crispano, Cimitile, Mariglianella, just to name a few, some similar festivals took place every year). The paradox concerns the creation of a conflict between the neighboring towns, rather than a collaboration between areas with similar traditions. Which festival is ‘original’? Is there something as an ‘original festival’?

According to art. 2 of the Agreement of Faro, a convention for the protection of cultural rights, cultural heritage is defined as a group of resources inherited from the past that some people identify, regardless of who owns the property, as a reflection and expression of their values​​, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It evolves as time goes by. It includes all aspects of the environment derived from the interaction over time between people and places. A community asset is made ​​up of people who attach value to aspects specific of their cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, sustain and transmit to future generations.

Other two examples have been given:

The Sicilian Puppets: Since being recognized by UNESCO as world heritage, the families of puppeteers paradoxically had more problems in terms of the traditional technique. After the production of the roof, thousands of young people have started to create “puppets”, although not perfect from in terms of production. This overproduction ended up in creating conflict, competition and lowering the overall quality of the festival.

The Carreri del Basso in Molise: Feast of just few minutes. It encompasses oxen and horses tied together to pull a wagon. Animal rights activists, for some time now, have denounced the violent attitude towards the animals. Horses are told to be doped for the festival, and the bleeding that can happen during the event, is just another alarm bell from this perspective. On the other hand, managers who run the stables are generally very careful towards their animals, and these are treated well all year long. This attitude is a reflection of a spirit of participation and respect towards animals.