Maria: a tornado of energy | Sport for All

Thanks to sport, Maria learnt how to manage her emotions and how to relate in a group

Maria’s story, told by a Vivi Basket educator, part of the Spor for All project, is a concrete example of how sport can make positive protagonists of one’s life.

“Maria has been with Vivi Basket since she was eight years old. She immediately jumped to the eye for her vitality, she never stopped. She competed with the older boys and girls without any problems, even when she returned to the gym after the pandemic, she had not lost her characteristics. On the first day he hugged us all and began: ‘I couldn’t stand being without basketball anymore’.

Same smile, desire to run and play, the real difference in the last period was that she was growing up, no longer a child but a teenager. Just last year she began to relate to us differently, it happened that she brusquely shushed a teammate who was talking about her family and shortly afterwards a flash of sadness passed through her eyes.

At the end of the training session I asked her how her family was made up and without any uncertainty she began to tell me: “my father is…” and she made the gesture of an open hand in front of her face (he was in prison), “my older brother…” and repeated the previous gesture, “my other brother studies in Padua and my mother’s partner works here in Naples. My mother is this one…’ and he introduced her to me!

Mum always comes to training and every now and then, when she is free from work, her partner comes too. I was surprised, and realised the difficulties Maria faced on a relational-familiar level, at the same time I was struck by her apparent calmness in telling me everything.

Maria systematically speaks in dialect, although she can speak perfectly in Italian, and our intervention was to encourage her companions to speak to her in Italian. The reality is that there is a sort of laziness in her to do things she does not like, although she is an intelligent girl, only when stimulated does she do everything.

An incredible agonist, she gets angry if things don’t go as she would like, the instructor’s interventions are really about the relationship in play with her classmates.

In December I learnt that she was doing badly at school, out of a form of rebellion against the school system, I found out that to help her organise herself she had a teacher, and her fear is that, finishing middle school, she might lose this person with whom she finds certainty and serenity.

“For me, basketball is everything, I like running with the ball, making baskets but above all winning!” says Maria. With the Orsa Maggiore educators, with whom we collaborate in our projects, and thanks to the support of the Fondazione Milan, we started a path of growth through sport to stimulate her and make her independent. Since then she has come to tell us about every school success. Her current family supports her but it is clear that dealing with school and adolescence at the same time is not easy.

Basketball for her is very important, it is an important tool for growth, we are working precisely on self-confidence, in the simplest things, in the relationship with her teammates, even among the older ones, who follow her mesmerised by her energy, but above all in respecting the rules.

For Maria, rules must be respected according to who proposes them, rebellion reactions are frequent and must be managed with a direct relationship in which we try to make her understand what is happening and that her reaction must not be violent.”

Fondazione Milan is committed to giving a chance of redemption to many young people who, for different reasons, risk being isolated and lost in delicate phases of life such as adolescence. Sport therefore intervenes as a tool for change to help young people, like Maria, who face difficult moments in their growth path.