Rugby from below that tries to save the young generations of a neighborhood on the edge of Catania, Librino, 80 thousand inhabitants, gathered in concrete skyscrapers between busy avenues and crumbling walls. And it does so while also trying to dispel a gender prejudice: rugby is not a sport for women. «Playing as a team creates community», repeats Marta Mazzucchelli, a non-resident student at the University of Catania, activist and senior player of the Brigantesse, the women’s rugby team made up of around forty, to the little under 14 and 16 players around her. of girls and part of the Librino Brigands Club. Marta also repeats it to herself, when she thinks back to the fire in the Club House five years ago, a wound for the Briganti sports association founded in 2006 in Librino, with the aim of bringing an alternative to the neighbourhood, using rugby as leverage to involve kids taken off the streets. But after the fire, two years ago, you also took over the team bus.
«We found it set on fire in the night – says Marta – but from these cowardly acts, just as many virtuous ones were born which give us the strength to continue with our heads held high». Like the social gardens near Campo San Teodoro, looked after by the same families of the neighborhood or the new “Librineria”, the social library of Librino with over a thousand texts all donated by private individuals, rebuilt after the first one had gone up in smoke due to the ‘fire. Ikea donated the shelving while three volunteers manage the opening and loan service.
A bit like the former dog track, at the Canile Ponte Marconi in Rome, which became the headquarters of the Roman rugby team, All Reds, the Briganti Club house is the heart of all the activities of the association, which since 2013 has also had the its women’s team: the Club alternates free training at the San Teodoro field and the after-school service provided every afternoon by volunteers. San Teodoro is the multi-sports center in Librino built for the 1997 Universiade and since then left incomplete and abandoned. In those disused premises, gyms, changing rooms and pavilions, Briganti and Brigantesse built their community of solidarity, involving citizens also in exhibitions on rugby in the world, book presentations, meetings and reading aloud for the little ones. Over the years, in addition to projects with neighboring schools, the Brigantis have started creative and artistic workshops involving many children and young people from Librino and the nearby San Giorgio district. Many then became players and members of the rugby club.
«Our aim is to be a point of reference for the neighborhood – says Mirko Saraceno, president of the Club dei Briganti and coach of the Brigantesses –. Until about ten years ago, Librino didn’t even have a high school and school dropout rates were much higher than now. Today I see a lot of hope, but the institutions are missing. Our idea is that of a community sport that drives a collective feeling of revenge. Meanwhile, we grow. And we also aim for sporting achievements. Like Serie A for the women’s team.”
For the first year, in fact, the Librino Brigantesses will play in national tournaments with fifteen players; after over a year of training on the regulation pitch delivered by the Municipality in February last year, after the renovation of the surface and doors. «It will be an emotion to play outside the island and bring the Librino model throughout Italy – says Agata Vasta, 24 years old, a recent graduate in Philosophical Sciences and player of Le Brigantesse – without the neighborhood we wouldn’t be the same players: on the field we bring the fight for the freedom of us women and for the social change of Librino”.