In Messina the “friendship derby” that goes beyond the barriers of prison


By John

Sport and solidarity to go beyond the barriers of prison, promoting team spirit and respect for the rules. It’s the meaning of “Friendship Derby”the initiative that took place within the Gazzi prisonpromoted by “Hope for you”, a voluntary association that has been collaborating with the penitentiary structure for 15 years.
In the sports field inside the prison, prisoners and volunteers played a mini football tournament as part of the project “I play inside too”. The former footballer took part in the event Carmine Coppola, always close to the initiatives of the association, acted as referee for the occasion. It was a moment of fun and joy even for a small audience, made up of about thirty prisoners, who gave warm applause and exultation to the players on the field. In the end, everyone was given a medal while Coppola was given a commemorative plaque. There was also a small refreshment of pastries offered by the volunteers. “We try to make these young people understand that there is an opportunity for them to start over too, we are a small drop in the ocean, but we are here to support them and make them understand that there is something better out there”, explains Rosa Denaro , a volunteer of the “Hope for you” association, takes care of prisoners with the same care as a mother with her children.
These are important events especially in the summer when prison activities are suspended and the sense of loneliness and isolation is more felt among the inmates. The initiative was possible thanks to the support of the prison director Angela Sciavicco and the commitment of the prison police officers with the commander Antonella Machi.
«These are very important events – he explains Letizia Vezzosi, responsible for the treatment area – allow inmates to meet the external society and to enrich themselves from the confrontation with those who do not know the prison reality, because only in this way is it possible for the inmates to understand that there is something else and that the external society is not forgotten of them, they are people who have made mistakes but this does not mean that they should not have a second chance». Important, this event, as well as the theatrical journey started inside the district house thanks to the commitment of Daniela Ursinothe president of “D’Arteventi”, which has managed, over the years, to involve bodies, institutions, directors and actors, creating that “jewel” structure that is the Piccolo Teatro Shakespeare.
“These events – adds Dr. Machì – are also important because they allow prisoners to get involved to demonstrate that one can be better people”.
The initiative, as mentioned, was organized in collaboration with the former footballer Carmine Coppola: «I consider myself lucky – says the “flag” of the glorious Messina in Serie A -, I have never judged anyone and I continue to do so, I participate to the initiatives of the association to give some relief to those who are in difficulty at the moment, hoping that sooner or later these people will be able to return to a normal life and above all be accepted back into society”.