- Vision (what is your “dream”, your main and general purpose?):
Social inclusion, solidarity and requalification of the territory are at the core of LIBERI NANTES’ vision. Indeed, the main idea when it was founded was: finding a new meaningful use for an abandoned sports facility, thus transforming it in a place of social inclusion and opportunity. When players enter the team they are warned that it is not a professional team, although many of them have or had had ambitions to get into the Italian National League. They remain and join the team first of all, in the staff’s words, “because they feel normal”. On the playground, they are no more refugees, people living in reception centers waiting for a very uncertain future, they are young people playing sport like all the others. They also stay because they feel part of a group, included in the local community and because they make friends with Italian people and with people coming from other countries, something that doesn’t happen in the reception centers where they are hosted.
- Educational objectives:
Fair play and intercultural skills are the two most important educational objectives of the organization. LIBERI NANTES has won twice the Fair Play Award of the league, a result they consider of paramount importance. This outcome is regarded as a very important feature of the activity, and an important index of the discipline and the intercultural skills staff and players learn while working and training together. At the beginning there were problems. Some players for example wouldn’t pass the ball to people of a different ethnicity, but that problems were overcome and now the same rules of openness and tolerance they learn while training together are applied when playing with another team.
- The background of practice:
Two were the models that gave the former president of LIBERI NANTES the idea: 1. The “Mondiali Antirazzisti” (The Antiracist World Cup) Event in Bologna (a football short eliminatory championship estabilished in 2007 and since held once a year, with migrant mononational teams) and 2. The Fugees US Soccer Team (the group of football fans and amateur players which was later to become LIBERI NANTES Association learned on the internet about this football team made of multinational refugees estabilished in the United States). So it was in 2007, when the first refugee crisis erupted in Italy, that the organization was founded. They took over a sports facility to recover from a state of decaying and abandon and use it as a basis for a team composed of refugees and asylum seekers.
Liberi Nantes is a not for profit association based in Rome which main activity is a football team entirely composed of refugees and asylum seekers, along with other subsidiary activities which support social inclusion and the requalification of urban areas, such as urban tracking to connect with cultural and natural beauties of the city, and Italian language courses for foreigners.
The beneficiaries are in the first place the refugees and asylum seekers playing in the team themselves, then all those relatives, friends or people from the local community who follow them as supporters, or participate in social events, urban tracking and the Italian language courses.
The former are usually 18 to 30 years old male individuals coming from different parts of the world. Most of them come from West African countries - there are cultural reasons to explain these statistics: football is very popular in their geographical area, and Italian football is highly praised. Significant numbers also come from East and Northern Africa, while Central Asian countries such as Afghanistan may contribute with small numbers.
An attempt to create a female team was also made, but it did not succeed, in the president’s opinion, for cultural reasons connected with female social roles in most of the cultures the beneficiaries come from.