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← Sport is life-changing | Luigi De Micco | TEDxMilano

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Showing Revision 5 created 11/30/2019 by Muriel de Meo.

  1. Once upon a time the field of Via Moscova.
  2. This story is set a few short steps
    from this theatre,
  3. a stone's throw from Duomo Square.
  4. It was 1979.
  5. The year when this photo was taken,
  6. Jody Scheckter, in Monza,
    becomes Formula 1 champion,
  7. and AC Milan earns its tenth star
    in the national title,
  8. and Pietro Mennea sets
    an unbelievable record,
  9. 19"72 in the 200 metres.
  10. Just imagine that 40 years on, even now,
  11. the record is unbeaten
    at a European level.
  12. No European has ever run faster than him.
  13. But above all, something happens
  14. that changed forever the history
    of an area of Milan.
  15. The United Nations proclaim 1979
    the International Year of the Child.
  16. Something that would normally
    make no difference.
  17. And yet Carlo Tognoli,
    back then mayor of Milan,
  18. decides to do something.
  19. So he seizes the opportunity
  20. and clears the area
    in front of Via Moscova 26
  21. from the rubble of a bombing
    of the Second World War
  22. and he realises a football field.
  23. All right, it isn't a glamourous place,
  24. it's an esplanade with two goals,
    which soon rust, and a basketball court;
  25. but I assure you,
    it was a magnificent place,
  26. because it had a noble mission:
  27. sports for the youth.
  28. I remember that field
    as if it were yesterday.
  29. I went there every day,
    with my ball under my arm,
  30. it was five minutes from home,
    but it only took me three to get there.
  31. I couldn't wait to get to the field.
  32. It was the neighbourhood's Maracanà.
  33. A theatre of memorable battles.
  34. For instance, I remember the derby
  35. between the clerks of the INAIL building
  36. and the funeral home
    employees in Porta Nuova.
  37. (Laughter)
  38. So no applauses: people would keep
    their hands in their pockets.
  39. (Laughter)
  40. And then there was -
  41. (Applause)
  42. And then there was the super-classic
  43. between the Carabinieri
    from the barracks you see up there,
  44. and the male nurses
    of the Fatebenefratelli hospital,
  45. and they beat each other like drums:
    Florentine football, more than football.
  46. Regardless, aside from
    these unmissable fixtures,
  47. the field had become in the 1980s
  48. an exceptional meeting, socialisation spot
    for the neighbourhood,
  49. where kids like me were doing -
    without knowing, and this is key -
  50. one of the healthiest things
    anyone can do in life: sports.
  51. So up to here
    the story goes nice and dandy.
  52. But it didn't.
  53. Because something big arrives,
    something huge,
  54. which puts an end to the story
    of the field, and of the 1980s.
  55. Do you know what? The 1990s.
  56. And Milan turns into Swiss cheese,
  57. holes were dug up everywhere
    to build underground car parks.
  58. Even under your house
    I'm sure there was some big hole:
  59. there were holes in Gramsci Square,
    one in San Ambrogio, 25th April square -
  60. Guys, could a hole be missing
    in Via Moscova? Of course no.
  61. And guess where did they dig?
    Where the field was.
  62. Here was the end of the endless games,
  63. the end of the memorable battles.
  64. Does the story of the field end here?
  65. No. It depends.
  66. Good, that's how I like you.
  67. It depends. On whom? On us.
  68. Because, if there's one thing I learnt,
    one thing I learnt over these years
  69. is that it everything
    always depends on us.
  70. So, if we don't want this story to end
  71. with only a handful of extra car parks,
  72. I'm asking for your help,
    because I won't go very far by myself.
  73. So I'm asking all of you
    to stand up with me.
  74. I'll make you work even on a Sunday.
  75. Everybody up?
  76. Put your hands behind your backs,
  77. so we'll also beat the record
  78. of the highest number of old dudes
    watching a construction site.
  79. (Laughter)
  80. And imagine how this story may end.
  81. Because it is true that a void
    is a problem; it must be filled.
  82. Some do so buying a motorcycle,
    or a pair of shoes.
  83. This is a huge void,
    we need to fly higher.
  84. So who says that, in the end,
    on top of the car park layers
  85. we can't put some icing
  86. and realise a football field
    that is nicer and stronger than before?
  87. [It takes] a bit of creativity
    and enthusiasm.
  88. So we can pick up from where we left off,
  89. so no one is taking away
    our football field.
  90. And what about Mennea's record?
    Shall we try to beat it?
  91. We need an athletics track,
  92. and a building licence.
  93. François said so, I'm from Cagliari,
    and I miss the beach so bad,
  94. so let's dream big,
  95. let's pick up some sand
    and let's build a beach volley court.
  96. Don't ask me to bring over the sea,
  97. we'll do instead "Italian style",
    something creative,
  98. let's build a basketball court,
    and let's paint it blue, sea-like.
  99. Thank you, you may sit down now,
  100. because we declare
    the construction complete,
  101. the fastest building job in history.
  102. We finished it in one minute.
  103. You won't believe it, but -
  104. (Applause)
  105. Unity is strength.
  106. But what we daydreamt for a minute
  107. is exactly what I was faced with
  108. when I took a walk and went to see
    the end of works, in 2013.
  109. We owe this to a group of citizens,
  110. who, just like we did,
    did not get discouraged,
  111. they fought with patience and tenacity.
  112. They built all the car parks,
    the Green Moscova Cooperative,
  113. but they also put on the icing.
  114. So can we open it now, can't we?
  115. Because the centre is closed.
  116. They haven't opened it yet.
  117. And incidentally, I find out
    that in those days
  118. the city of Milan was looking
    for an administrator.
  119. So I run home, full of enthusiasm,
  120. and I jot down a 52-page project
    on how I'd manage that place.
  121. I place it in an envelope,
    and I send it to Chiara Bisconti,
  122. alderman of sport,
    2, Via Marconi, Milan City Hall.
  123. And I wait.
  124. (Laughter)
  125. With much optimism,
    come on, we'll manage the field.
  126. A week, two weeks, two months,
    three months, four months -
  127. The phone doesn't ring.
  128. It finally does, at eight at night.
  129. Unknown number. Shall I pick up?
    It's dinner time, after all.
  130. Yes. Guess who it was.
  131. It was Fastweb wanting to sell me
    the mega fibre - No, I'm joking.
  132. They told me, "Don't say that,
    it's a sponsor", but I did.
  133. (Laughter)
  134. No -
  135. (Applause)
  136. It must have happened to you too.
  137. Worse, it was the alderman.
  138. They had loved the project,
  139. and the next day I had to go to her office
  140. to collect the keys
    because "Soon", in a hurry,
  141. "Luigi, you have to open within 30 days."
  142. You understand how the enthusiasm
    and the happiness last about one minute
  143. and soon turns into -
  144. (Laughter)
  145. absolute terror.
  146. And I assure you that if you only knew
  147. what I put in that envelope,
    in that project,
  148. you would also panick big time.
  149. Let's read it together,
  150. so we take up a little dose of fear
    all together, which is good for you.
  151. I won't read all 52 pages.
  152. I wrote: creating a sports area
    that acts as a model for the whole city,
  153. managed according to ethical
    and innovative criteria
  154. to promote sports, wellbeing and health
  155. fostering participation and integration
    beyond any differences and prejudices.
  156. How do you do all that stuff?
  157. I had really shot high, because I wanted
    to manage the field, but -
  158. (Laughter)
  159. (Applause)
  160. Settle down,
  161. you follow the other 51 pages
    of the project methodically,
  162. and if we want to create a model area
  163. we need to improve
    the structure that was already there,
  164. because there indeed were a few flaws.
  165. A 20,000-euro loan
    by a friendly bank, immediate liquidity,
  166. my dad, who's here somewhere.
  167. (Laughter)
  168. And we build the locker rooms -
  169. there were no hot showers, no benches,
  170. and we cover the athletics track,
    which was made of asphalt,
  171. with technical material.
  172. And while we are at it,
    we make the real dream come true:
  173. we receive truckloads of sand
    for the beach volley court.
  174. Then, over the years,
    little by little, after two years,
  175. we also realised a gym,
  176. so we put up a roof on a sports centre,
    which had been entirely outdoor.
  177. We're halfway through the
    construction, we've built the roof,
  178. which we celebrate
    with "malloreddus alla campidanese"
  179. prepared by my mom that morning.
  180. I hadn't prepared them.
    Is Pietro Palvarini here?
  181. My mom had prepared them,
    I can tell you now.
  182. So the sports centre
    is the atomic bomb, guys.
  183. It's sensational,
  184. the first people we want to welcome
    once we open the gates
  185. are the children,
    those of the Year of the Child,
  186. who are now in their 50s,
  187. but they have their own children,
    so more people in the neighbourhood.
  188. But there isn't much time,
    because we only have 30 days.
  189. So myself and my partner,
  190. who's the first person I called
  191. when I saw the ad from the city,
  192. together with him
    and the old five-a-side friends
  193. we quickly put together a non-profit
  194. to realise that mission
    and open the field.
  195. So, here we are.
  196. We look more like those guys
    welcoming you onto the ferry,
  197. but I assure you it's us.
  198. Over time, we create over six years
    a veritable team,
  199. made up of educators, coaches
    and project managers.
  200. The projects are the heart
    of the sports centre;
  201. they are intended
  202. for those whose life's starting blocks
  203. were a few steps behind ours,
  204. due a condition of physical
    or social disadvantage.
  205. And those like me who had all the fortunes
    in the world are pleased to wait,
  206. and support them to take a journey
    of sports and life together.
  207. So there are plenty of activities.
  208. We have 100 free courses
    for low-income families,
  209. so those in need have
    a fair chance to play sports.
  210. And then there's the issue
    of welcoming migrants,
  211. so we have multicultural football,
    basketball teams that are open to anyone.
  212. During Saturday mornings trainings,
    the centre becomes the navel of the world.
  213. There are kids from Palestine,
    Kosovo, Senegal, Mali
  214. who play with Italian kids
    to have an enriching experience?
  215. The more diverse the cultures,
    the richer the people.
  216. We also focus on the accessibility
    of sports to people with disabilities.
  217. So we have a program
    of crossdisciplinary activities
  218. open to people of every age and ability.
  219. Because if we get different people
    to do sports together,
  220. the experience is far richer.
  221. This mix of individuals
    and this variety of people on the field
  222. is the key that makes this centre
    the home of sports for everyone.
  223. To realise our mission there,
  224. otherwise it's useless,
    it remains just a sheet of paper.
  225. So there are kids on wheelchairs
    who come to the centre to play
  226. with the staff of the non-profits
    accompanying them,
  227. there are families who take
    their children to attend our courses
  228. and they join gym courses
    alongside kids with disabilities.
  229. There are phenomenal
    visually impaired baseball players,
  230. who open the eyes of those
  231. who sometimes forget
    how good sports are for you,
  232. and they do it together.
  233. And of course running cannot be missing:
  234. the easiest of sports,
    you only need a pair of shoes.
  235. We have a free running club
  236. where disabled children and volunteers
    train to run marathons and relays.
  237. We began tentatively with five people
  238. then, after three years, step by step,
  239. the whole world arrived
    there are 500 of us,
  240. with firms, partners, institutions
    that have joined us,
  241. 50 youths with disabilities,
  242. and the day of the marathon
    is an extraordinary event.
  243. With all these activities,
    all these projects,
  244. with the necessary enthusiasm,
  245. leaving home, rain or shine,
  246. winning, losing, sweating,
    falling and getting back up,
  247. in other words, doing sports,
    change begins.
  248. The most profound one.
    The one within yourself.
  249. So the mood is lifted,
  250. you breathe -
  251. It shows that I started doing
    yoga last Monday, huh?
  252. You bunch of phonies.
  253. So you just feel better.
  254. You're more sociable,
    you laugh more, you joke more,
  255. you reconnect with yourselves.
  256. I saw this change in the face of a person
    who one day came to the centre,
  257. a company manager
    who had supported our projects.
  258. "I want to come and play
    with the disabled kids."
  259. "Great, come over."
  260. He came in tensed,
    after a presumably hellish day at work,
  261. with all the muscles
    in his face contracted.
  262. He held out his hand
    to greet the first kid,
  263. and this boy with down syndrome
    just sprang into a wonderful hug
  264. I'm jealous, I'd have liked
    to receive a hug like that.
  265. It wasn't your everyday hug.
  266. It was warm, human, long, therapeutic.
  267. And this person got better immediately.
  268. He had fun, he relaxed,
  269. and he played with the kids;
    he still thanks us today.
  270. A hug was enough to trigger all this.
  271. What an ability!
  272. After you witness episodes like these,
    you ask yourself some questions.
  273. I know.
  274. Who's disabled?
  275. And I gave myself some answers.
  276. We all have disabilities and abilities.
  277. Everyone of us is able to do
    one thing perfectly,
  278. and everyone of us
    is incapable of doing other things,
  279. we have our disabilities,
    possibly because we've worked too much?
  280. Because we've been looking at our
    mobile everywhere like dowsers,
  281. and we have the world's
    most nimble thumbs,
  282. but we've let other parts of us wither?
  283. Can it be?
  284. So sports are always round the corner,
  285. there's always a gym open 24 hours a day,
  286. seven days a week,
  287. to help us train the most important parts.
  288. Our body? Easy bet.
  289. The head? The Romans said it already.
  290. The heart, above all.
  291. So it is a gym where each of us can bring,
    first and foremost, our abilities.
  292. Let's start from the nice things,
    because we share those first,
  293. then the not-so-nice ones,
    our disabilities,
  294. will look more human,
    more manageable, overcomeable.
  295. This is why sports are magic,
    and sports change lives.
  296. And just like it changed mine,
  297. and in small or large part
  298. the lives of the other
    protagonists of this story,
  299. I am sure that it can be achieved
  300. in other places with similar
    social challenges.
  301. Because Milan,
    Italy and even other countries
  302. are full of fields ready to take flight.
  303. And, I hope, there are plenty of people -
  304. maybe even in this theatre,
    at home, around the world,
  305. ready to invest in the magic of sports.
  306. The sports revolution, I feel it,
  307. can explode anywhere and in anyone,
  308. provided one condition.
  309. One condition must be fulfilled:
    our willingness to light the fuse.
  310. Our willingness to take the first step,
  311. our willingness to dare more,
    to get involved, play more.
  312. That's it, play more.
  313. I'm actually terrible at this myself,
  314. because I too forget this thing some time.
  315. So I wanted to write it down
  316. in the most visible place I could find,
  317. a place I would have in front of my nose
    ten, a hundred, a thousand times a day,
  318. together with the other protagonists
    who have joined me in this story.
  319. I wanted to write it
    in the name of the project
  320. and in the name of the sports centre,
    which is called, "Play more".
  321. Thank you.
  322. (Applause)