Top4 by DMLR - Meta Marketing Magazine
or "the sports in one's life"
(INTRO) When kids ruled the streets, I was there! One time, early in the 1970s, we did organize a series of sport games inspired by the Olympics, that involved all our companions living in the neighbourhood. I made the drawing of the medals, disk-shaped coloured paper sticked on cardboard and with cut-out to pass through a cotton ribbon. I can't list all the individual trials we set up, but they varied widely fron running to cycling, from jumping to tennis table. Everyone could win a medal, everyone would be a referee in turn to take measure or time some races, so that we played by the rules. We did it in a particular low-frequented area known as The Channel, for under its concrete pavement an ancient waterway was still flowing down. That in-house Olympics helped us to be competitive with respect in as many sports as we could accomplish by ourselves. Even though we were just kids, it looked like a Sporting Club.
VOL. I: FOOTBALL SINCE 1965.When kids ruled the streets, I was there! Certainly the ball games affected the boys and we mostly didn't miss any opportunity to play football on every surface we had at disposal—concrete, asphalt, grass, or sand. Whenever the young gang was mixed of boys and girls, the amusement turned to classic outdoor games: Hide and Seek, Capture the Flag, Jump Rope, Hopscotch, all alive from my childhood.
This is an excursion through the sports I have seriuosly taken on during my school years and over...
1. Football (1965-1990 ca.)
The football was what I learned to play as soon as possible. At the beginning I had a ball made of pieces of cloth well assembled and sewed by Mom as a round woollen bundle! No rumor and no damage when I played it inside home. Outside I was a street boy with many companions and a plastic ball to play mainly on the concrete sidewalks between two sides of the street—main door to main door, the road was the midfield! Every time a car driver came close to, a voice shouted: "machine!" and the match was arrested... Sometimes I did play football on the nude land after the oratory or in the lawn of the parks when some parents led us away out of our neighborhood. The problem was always to fix the posts and give appearance of certain rules to the game we were going to play (the goal). The posts came out from pieces of garnments or things left by us the kids to mark the goal limits; outward from the church the post was usually designed on the parochial wall sustaining the aisle. And so on. The second issue was the referee but this is the same problem occurred to the professional matches. The friendly games didn't actually need referees, just gentleboys' agreement, but many discussions were in the order of the day and broke down in long suspensions of the game—the only "super-partes" could be considered the priest from the cathechism. After those naive years, I met a young amateur club to become a regular player but, ever completely sweated, I went back home to find my Dad furious about my many hours out of studying. This is the reason why my football career stopped with not even a start. I rested a budding player, enthusiastic but not trained, good for evening match with grow-up friends. A kind of revenge will come in the middle of the 1980s and I would explain it. At the end of the after-work football tournament my company team went up to the final—then I did work in Bologna—and I got the opportunity to play the ultimate match in a real stadium classified for the Italian championship, i.e. 105x68-metre field and capable of hosting 35,000 people. The grass, the posts, the lines, and the field distance were the regular ones of the professional Serie A teams. That time my VALSPORT shoes were on the pitch. I did play as right back just to use an old football term. I passed the midfield line 4-5 times because the pressing was not in fashion. Good match and great sensations under my feet: for 90 minutes I felt to stand in my natural habitat! (The result doesn't matter).
2. Swimming (1970-2020)
When I was teen-ager I went to the swimming course for a few years continually. The family addressed me to a complete sport and sure it completed my balanced growth—you know that by swimming one uses left and right sides of the body at the same time and with same intensity. The swimming was initially hard for me, in winter too cold and in summer too long the 50-metre lane to be finished. Hard work but it was well worth it and I turned into a very good swimmer with no attitude for the competition. Swimming is now my favourite sport in summertime. A seasonal sport and a great effort in pushing arms and legs. I alternate three styles for a whole hour and this is my standard session in the water the days at over 30°C, despite the age. Ultimately I need to protect much my delicate eyes with special ARENA goggles. And I keep on going into the same Olympic pool where I have been learning to swim fifty years ago!
VOL. II: FAR AWAY FROM THE CITY.If I had lived in Benelux, perhaps I would have been a cyclist—I'm thinking so while the pros are riding on Da Ronde van Vlaanderen (2020 Tour of Flanders). This annual round is a vision limited on the box because of the contagious hazard. Therefore people are not allowed to stand along the stone sidewalks and encourage their favourite two-wheelers being fatigued by the pavé ramps. Only some shy residents appear seldom behind their masks at the Paterberg. That's the way sport goes on.
And this is the second volume dedicated to the sports I did properly to get a life.
3. Cycling (1970-today)
This is probably my second attitude in sport if I think about how much I have pedalled in my lifetime—at a rough estimate at least 40,000 km. I always used the bicycle daily to move in a small town but in my fantasy I thought to be a real cyclist! The favourite times on the bicycle were the long excursions to the hills and low mountains. Out of the playground, as a teenager I easily started going by bike with friends of an age, for the culture of the territory was pregnant with the bicycle. It was like an initiation when we went out and reach the first hills around the city to show courage, strength and resistance. Since the heights could be 30-35 Km far from the town center, you guess how much could be difficult those first adventures—a standard bike for kid with mudguards, no gear and no helmet. Just the pleasure to go and tell the parents about the excursion! Even later I never entered a cycling team, so I was just an amateur tout-court. Growing up I improved my own bicycle by adding the gears to the city model but never bought a real racing byke. Neverthless in the 1990s I started to go very far and cover total distances of 150 Km per day. For a long unemployment period cycling had become my first occupation. The bicycle I rode fast across the region, once to the seaside, was a model Alicanto by BIANCHI—that one day was stolen from the street (it followed a prolonged mourning).
Today the final stage of my cycling as active sport finds me engaged in short routes out of the way with the mountain bike. Of course I like the cyclo-cross through tight tracks in the woodlands!
4. Volleyball (1974-1978)
At secondary school and over the so called Physical Education was a matter like mathematics and history. We made exercises of gymnastics, but the fun came out from experiencing for the very first time some sports as sprint running and high jump, then volleyball and basketball played possible in the school palestra. At the high school we were much oriented to volleyball by the teacher. He was actually the coach of the local most important team, winner of several Italian championships and best known as PANINI from its sponsor name. So that I learned the volley fundamentals, i.e. those of ball practice and reception, from the right person. I have been playing volleyball within the school walls but didn't express any interest otherwise. Sometimes on the beach I found very fun to play volley again as summer pastime.
Just for the record.
VOL. III: THE WINTER GAMES.During the lockdown due to the pandemics, open air and individual sports have been suffering lesser restrictions than team sports or those played inside the sports arena. Glancing through my photo memories I noted two highly different sports I have dealt with.
5. Skiing (1971-1980 ca.)
My parents were not true mountain lovers but they had the good idea to send me to the "white weeks" that were organized by the secondary school teachers late in winter. For three years I went to the northeastern Alps with kids of the same age (I was 11 to 13-years-old) and finally learned to ski. I consdider skiing the most difficult sport I learned to perform because of the rigid environment around and the accurate technique to assimilate. I got out of that period as a fair good skier and later the young came back to the mountains with friends just for one-day excursions of downhill skiing—one time I tried for the Nordic style, just to swear like mad! Even though I didn't consider me a fan of this beautiful sport, I have preserved all my old-fashioned skiing equipment, from the FISCHER skis to the salopettes and ski boots.
Long live the mountains and the glaciers anyway!
6. Handball (1975-82)
I have been a true handball player. The first medal I deserve in my sporting career came shortly after I had joined a handball team. It happened at the 1975 "Youth Games", a yearly meeting of all the junior teams playing in the province. As debutant and with a short training I was thrown in the game as left winger for I was 6 feet high but not robust enough to play in the middle. I kept on playing handball for several years in the local team that took part in the Italian championship. So it happened to play in the A-Series for a dozen of caps starting from the bench and scoring a bunch of goals by penalty, shot I was specialized in. The next year my club entered a period of financial difficulty and we restarted the competiton from the third division. Initially we were a group of friends used to play football everywhere who turned into regular handball players, just to try our hand at that new team sport. Soon the handball became my first sporting engagement. What should I remember here? The choice between the branded sporting shoes—I did consider the Universal by ADIDAS the ideal type to play handball. The frequent changes in sponsorship to make survive the club. The difficulty to get room beside the most considered sports, pointedly the powerful local voleyball. A short and pointless experience with a Rumanian coach with a bizarre name. The home matches played in the worst conditions, on an outdoor froggy playfield, while this is a sport for court. The away matches that brought me and teammates from Trieste to Teramo, always in very hot spots for the visitors. 1982 I defintively left handball while I was going to complete the university studies and without living the times of professional handball that came on shortly afterward.
VOL. IV: OUT OF THE TEENAGE YEARS.In the 1970s the working class had improved its living standard thanks to further rights conquered on the workplace. So my parents could let me study until I was at least in the university, therefore differently from what they had done thirty years before, for they started working after the primary school. Meantime I could play a lot of sport.
Here I'm writing about other sports I put behind me. Both were noteworthy since I finally was coming out from the teenage period.
7. Pentathlon (1983)
At that time the military service was a 12-month period and obligatory for me who got absolutely good health. At the beginning I stood in the centre for new arrivals (aka CAR), where I had the opportunity to enter into the military pentathlon squad. I did five trials: swimming, running, precision weight launching, precision shooting, and warlike track racing. I didn't pass the selection because I resulted fair good just in swimming and shooting. So I left the recruits centre and joined the office in an artillery barracks located in front of Venice. Surely I made many day-and-night guards from the watching posts. Making it hard to sporting for the next ten months, I cheered me up by walking a lot. After the daily service I had been strolling up and down in Venice and sometimes attending the Reyer basketball games at the historical parquet named "Misericordia"!
8. Tennis (1978-1988 ca.)
In the mid 1970s the fashion of tennis had exploded among the Italians pursuing the national team's players who achieved success in the Davis cup. Once in a while I was taken up by that general bustle of playing tennis. We were the pigs who entered into the temple of an aristocratic game! To host all that horde of beginners, the tennis courts were built up everywhere feasible—I saw many bowls grounds dismantled to make room for mateco surfaces. Many old sports left their social space in favour of the tennis fascination. I was going to play tennis with friends or colleagues, beginners as well as me, on the artificial courts. Neither clay nor grass!
We started with impromptu tennis dress then turned to branded outfits. I recall to have worn the iconic FILA beige jersey with the clip-buttoned collar and a red-and-white SergioTacchini livery as provided by our firm for the staff pastime including the business tournaments. Gradually I got over thanks to summary instructions from some more practiced players. Rackets, balls, postures, and all that jazz. My coup de théâtre in tennis was the two-hand backhand for I was a model faker or a lowest-ranked player at the most!
This way I have told the attitude of going from a sport to another, dealing with all them eight as dillettante with great application that is typical of my generation, I think so. We liked to experience a lot of sports and we could do it since the sport as an amazing way of life was allowed to young people like us as never before. THE END.
(OUTRO) Glancing back over the years, I'm very fond of the Olympics 1972 edition held in Munich, Germany. There are many reasons. One, I had received a shoulder bag with the Munich 1972 logo on it, some weeks before that sporting event. And two, for the first time I watched the Olympics on TV, that meant to get involved, see excellent athletes in action and possibly like to emulate them. But, three, the competitions were truly a background where the Americans (with their allies) and the Soviets (with their allies) were still at loggerheads! Four, it's history. The airport attack to the terrorists on the way out of Germany, where they had previously entered the Olympic village to kill Israeli athletes. It left a mark on our memory forever.