Soccer as a means of integration between different ethnic groups. Considering the episodes of racism in which the most popular sport in the world was involved in the past few years, this could seem an unattainable goal. Yet, it has been achieved thanks to Koa Bosco, a team whose players come from the tent cities of Rosarno and San Ferdinando. Founded in 2013, the society is superintended by don Roberto Meduri, aided by general manager Domenico Bagalà and trainer Domenico Mammoliti. Together, they have already taken part in two third category tournaments, clinching a playoff victory in the last weeks and earning themselves a promotion to the upper-level championship. Significantly, the project has been developed in the area where, in 2010, the immigrants instigated an infamous riot, putting the whole city to sword and fire.
If something has changed since then, it is also owing to the enthusiasm and single-mindedness shown by don Roberto and his collaborators, who have truly put their hearts and souls into the cause. There have been, of course, moments of difficulty. Especially over the last season, during which the team fell victim to a number of unpleasant episodes. Generally speaking however, the integration project has yielded many positive results. Some of the boys have indeed been able to find themselves a job, whereas many others were simply given the opportunity to unwind after their days of hard work in the citrus orchards of the Plain of Gioia Tauro. Furthermore, they have excited the interest of newspapers and giants of journalism from all over the world, such as CNN, BBC, The Guardian and New York Times, as well as TV channels from all of Italy and half of Europe.
Some memories will prove to be unforgettable for the players, like the time when they were hosted by Juventus, the team who have been leading the field in Italy for many years now. The tour of the stadium, with Pavel Nedved cast as their guide, was one of the most touching moments for this rather multifarious team, many of whose members come from different countries in the south and centre of Africa.
A number of cultural initiatives have also been promoted that are running parallel to the Koa Bosco project. One that is worth mentioning is Solidal Team, fostered by Domenico Bagalà in cooperation with the Regional Committee of Calabria, the National Amateurs League and many other local associations. This project was successful in collecting clothes for the inhabitants of the tent cities present in the area, enabling them to protect themselves from the coldness and dampness of winter in their own houses. As usual then, Calabria has confirmed itself as one of those regions in Italy that pay most attention to social issues.