Alberto finds a guide and a friend | Sport for All

Alberto and Avio

Alberto is 17 years old and his qualities are immediately apparent. He is friendly, ironic, polite, active, has a rare property of language and is gallant with girls, personal qualities cultivated in his family. What the Sport for All programme, promoted by the Fondazione Milan together with CSV Emilia, has brought into his life is a meeting with a special coach, who after four years is also a guide and a friend: Avio Paganini, the historic president (now honorary) of Self Atletica Montanari e Gruzza of Reggio Emilia.

From his mother Antonella’s tale: ‘when we met the programme, we were coming from a series of negative experiences in sports groups where nobody was dedicated to us. With Avio, however, everything was different from the very first training session. He looked at Alberto and said: ‘From today on, stand up straight, shoulders back, chest out and LOOK FIRE’. I got excited and thought that this was the coach we had been looking for for years. And I wasn’t wrong.

“His bond with Alberto has grown stronger day by day: he has never given him discounts, but has dedicated himself to him body and soul and has been able to compensate for his difficulties. Alberto can’t put logical and numerical sequences in a row: counting, learning the rules of a team game… Avio knows how to stimulate him and has taught him (through his actions) that self-confidence can lead to truly unexpected goals: four years ago Alberto struggled to climb stairs, today he does weekly multidisciplinary training, from stretching to running, to various types of jumps. Athletics has become a regular appointment that he would never give up and Avio is his point of reference, even outside sport.

From coach Avio’s account: “the bond I have with Alberto is based on trust and respect, affection and listening to each other. The lockdown was one of the moments in which we got closer: Alberto was very tired, even physically, and I used to go and see him at his house: we went for a run, me, him and my dog, we trained alone and talked, we became friends. I would call his family and we would talk about how to overcome that period of crisis. Then we went back to the track and field and picked up where we left off, always with perseverance and imagination: Alberto sometimes guides other young people with disabilities in their running, and I gladly give him responsibility because he knows how to listen, commit himself and earn his own satisfaction.

“I believe that the path we have travelled together over the years has given him a great awareness of his own body and his ability to manage it. As for me… I have been working alongside children with and without disabilities as a Fidal coach for many years and what I have learned is that every child is unique, every relationship is unique: by putting myself on the line every day, as a professional and as a man, I discover special children like Alberto. This is why I continue to do it: out of passion, not duty.

Support Fondazione Milan’s programmes and help us cultivate important and lasting relationships like the one between Avio and Alberto.