If ever there was a human and sporting story that opens the heart, it’s the one of the two women’s volleyball champions, Paola Egonu from Cittadella (Padova) and Miriam Sylla from Palermo. It opens the heart because it’s about two strong women squashed by racism, violence, gender discrimination and all the venim that plagues our society.
Paola and Miriam are both champions, beacons of the National team that stood out at the World Championships in Japan, conceding only to the unbeatable team from Serbia, that will grant us further satisfactory rewards in Tokyo in a few months.
Paola and Miriam are both second-generation Italian. They sing our national anthem, they eat our food and they love Italy as much as we do, if not more, and its wonderful that through sports they gave their respective families the joy and economic stability they would have not known previously.
Sport is a social safeguard. It is one of the few environments in which what really counts is merit and the ability to play with others and against adversaries. At the end of a game, everyone’s friends again.
Sport as an example of integration, even though rightly so, Miriam objects to this concept seeing as she is Italian and she feels as Italian as me and doesn’t feel she has to integrate being, fortunately, my fellow compatriot.
Sports keeps its distance from hate, savagery, injustice and rampant resentment.
Sports remind us once again how much of the Africa we actively contributed to mistreating is still incredibly in love with us and is still eager to mix with us and make us better.
Two Afro-Italians, Paola and Miriam, with origins from Nigeria and the Ivory Coast, respectively, who have shown us another way to understand life and volleyball.
After all, a multi-racial and multi-ethnic society has the added value of letting you fly thousands of kilometers away with a single glance, of bringing you in touch with worlds you never imagined and make you understand the beauty of diversity every day.
Even before becoming champions, Paola and Miriam were our friends, our classmates and playmates and I can imagine them in the gymnasium during Phys-Ed, already great athletes and sought after because you can train a talent like theirs but it has to be to be instinctive able to reach such remarkable levels.
The society blossoming before our eyes, whether the sovereigntists of every order and degree like it or not, is this one and its beautiful. And no one, not even if they try with all their might, can ever ruin it simple because those classmates and playmates will stop them. Even if they are young men and women less famous than Paola and Miriam, but not less important for our future.