I Camaleonti, a team without barriers18 May 2023
Going further and overcoming physical, emotional and social limits: this is the leitmotif of I Camaleonti, the Lugano (CH) football team made up of people with disabilities, which at the beginning of May was hosted by its Lisbon “sister” club, SL Benfica.
I CAMALEONTI GUESTS OF BENFICA IN LISBON
From Ticino to Portugal: from April 28 to May 1, I Camaleonti were guests of the Fundação Benfica which, among its other activities, manages a football team made up of people with disabilities. I Camaleonti and Fundação Benfica met way back in 2019, on the banks of the Ceresio river, and once again in June 2022, at the international inclusive football tournament in Bonn (Germany); a few days were enough to give birth to a beautiful friendship, which grew over the months, up to the invitation to spend a few days in Lisbon.
For many Camaleonti, this was a “first time” trip: first experience on a plane; first time abroad; first visit to a big city. Eighteen Camaleonti and 11 carers (including 2 nurses) took part in the trip. “Everything went smoothly, even though we often had to revise our plans and programs all over again”, reported Boris Angelucci, coach and managing director of the Associazione Camaleonti. “We had planned a series of activities, training sessions and matches for our guys, but the very high temperatures on the one hand and the enthusiasm born from meeting the Benfica lads – as well as the chance of sharing and grouping – on the other led us organisers to review the overall planning, even several times a day. However, given how the weekend went, it was absolutely worth it”.
A tour of the city, a visit to the Benfica museum, the simulation of a press conference: I Camaleonti juggled every situation with joy and curiosity, as also underlined by Luís Filipe Alcobia, Community Projects Manager of the Fundação Benfica: “We welcomed I Camaleonti with great enjoyment and enthusiasm. Experiences like this are really important for the social development of young people, and also for sharing best practices among coaches, in order to professionally support increasingly more people with disabilities”.
I CAMALEONTI IN SCHOOLS AND COMPANIES
Promoting inclusiveness has now become a “full-time” commitment. Once football boots are off, I Camaleonti are often engaged in team-building meetings within companies and in education and awareness-raising initiatives in middle and high schools of the Canton Ticino. “After a brief presentation of our organisation, we let the debate arise spontaneously”, announced Vice President Gian Luca Cantarelli. “Usually, the curiosity of the students gives rise to a truly constructive discussion, which breaks down all barriers. The key message brought to schools is that of the importance of “self-help”: teamwork is the essential element of the philosophy of I Camaleonti, who join forces and support each other in every situation, inside and outside the pitch”.
Even in the corporate context, the Camaleonti’s experience can enrich the professionals who participate in team-building activities: in fact, the Ticino football project becomes a symbol of inclusion and a metaphor for challenge. Through matches of walked football – a type of football practiced in a smaller field, where running is prohibited – able-bodied people and people with disabilities compete in mixed teams. And who wins? Those who succeed, once again, in teaming up, going beyond differences, and in finding common strengths.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INCLUSION AND MEDIA RESONANCE
Passion for sport, inclusion and the breaking down of all types of barriers are values also shared by IBSA, which has always been committed to promoting sporting and social projects. Indeed, the issue of inclusion is becoming increasingly central in any public debate. As proof of this relevance, the TV programme Storie (“Stories”) of RSI, the Swiss national TV network, dedicated a documentary to I Camaleonti, following and filming the entire team during their staying in Bonn in June 2022; a very interesting and touching documentary, which fully conveys the essence of this wonderful team and of all the people who contribute to this project.