KICK OFF

Unlimited Sport

“I can’t believe it, Stefania! Look at those four kids… Even with just a few of them, they put together a match ‘German style’!”. Marco Antonio was laughing. I stopped the car on the nearly deserted street, so that he could get a better look at the match that these very young footballers were working very hard to win, there on that lawn just outside the little Baltic town we were headed to. He watched the two ‘German-like’ teams closely and in total silence. I thought he was probably remembering himself at that age, when his passion for football had already taken up residence in his feet and his heart, long before anyone could even imagine his career as a Serie A footballer, his years as the captain of the Bologna team, or his time playing for various foreign teams. Then he smiled at me, and we left. We saw many other kids playing, in that half a summer travelling around Europe. Our trips are always also work related: he a football agent, I a singer and producer, we love our jobs so much that we do not distinguish between our private life and our professions, which frequently take us out of Bologna, to other cities and other countries. That time, we had decided to allow ourselves the luxury of travelling by car, taking side streets and choosing small towns over cities; and maybe it was that focus on all the “small” things, taking our time, that led to inner reflection and chats about the football being played by those young kids. And it brought about our stops at lawns, little squares, and dirt pitches to admire every kind of street football imaginable with teams of every size: eleven vs. eleven, six against six, one on one ‘French or Dutch style’… In our many years as a couple, it was definitely not the first time that Dema and I had talked about football. But it was on this trip that I really fully understood that football is a vital instinct that resides in all humans, and just how much matches played by young kids are truly inspiring. I know Marco well, and I know when he gets a new idea. As enthusiastic as he was, he was most certainly hatching something regarding those kids and football… And I, as usual, enjoy guessing.

Stefania Tschantret

Founder and President
Oblivion Production

A spot on idea

Football is “my stuff”, yes, but she played sports at a high level, too, and she loves sports as an athletic event and as a school of life; it’s not a coincidence that we met… in those sunny days under the skies of Europe, I found myself sharing the wealth of many emotions, of life as in sports, with Stefania. Tracking down kids playing football, in towns and cities, had become the secret mission of our trip. She has a generous passion for other people’s talents: out of her ability to recognise and promote that talent she has made a career… And so it was that in Leiden, while watching a colourful voetbalclub of young talents make inspired plays…“between artists and athletes there really isn’t much difference”, she told me, with the air of an accomplice. Had Stefania read my mind? Or maybe she also wanted to get those kids together who in many different places shared the same passion? With tenderness and joy we watched that confused mass of jeans, sweatshirts, shoes, and jerseys of famous Dutch teams, a few cleats here and there… and it was in France, in Nyons, when we saw two female équipe in action on a little pitch next to an olive grove, that I told Stefania what I had in mind: I was met with her unconditional enthusiasm. On the return trip, we developed the idea with thousands of details and lots of food for thought: we were galvanised by the possibility of creating an event of great athletic and social value. “An international under 15 tournament in Bologna”…; “And girls’ football, too, right…?; “We have to spread sports values among European kids”…; “We can widen this idea, with events dedicated to art, health, nutrition”…; “With the tournament we can finance initiatives to help our youth”. Will they be tomorrow’s champions? That I cannot know. I know that when I saw the teams line up in Piazza Maggiore for the presentation to the city, I thought that the last time I had been this happy was when we won the Uefa cup… I whispered softly to Stefania: “it’s nice, doing something to leave a legacy…”; “to live a dream!”, she corrected me.

Marco Antonio De Marchi

President of the Association
for Social Promotion
Amici di We Love Football

English