After the Tokyo Olympics, will Italy be able to relaunch sport in schools?

After the Tokyo Olympics, will Italy be able to relaunch sport in schools?

After the Tokyo Olympics

The Italian sports system focuses heavily on military groups and state bodies, forgetting institutes, grassroots sports, teachers: what the Japanese expedition can teach us

(photo: Jean Catuffe / Getty Images) Italian expedition returns from Tokyo in triumph. It projects even higher the career of Giovanni Malagò, president of Coni, and begins to give us an idea of ​​how things would work in a country where the theory of "generation of phenomena" was passed to the practice of a "mature sports system" . On the other hand, isn't it much more fun (and useful to the country from many points of view) to collect the dividends of years of duly financed and valued programming work than relying each time on the rhetoric of the miracle and the phenomenon? We saw him this year in Japan, winning five gold medals in an athletics that only a few years ago saw us as supporting actors destined to wait for some rare phenomenon. And even with the disappointment of some discipline to which we have always clung to flesh out the basket, we return with the historical record of medals.

Yet the enthusiasm for the loot of 40 podiums among gold, silver and bronze it should lead us astray. For the series: thank you for everything and see you in Paris (that Paris that could have been Rome). In other words, we should exploit it, as Malagò said only in part, to tackle the structural problems of a country that does not believe in school sports and therefore has never invested a penny in it. He does not believe in it not only in infrastructural terms but also in didactic terms: he does not believe in the role of grassroots sport, therefore in its teachers and in their training, in the role that the relationship between local - civil - sport groups and schools.

In fact, the Olympic exploit relies largely on military sports groups, a historic Italian peculiarity, and which lacks a large slice of a virtuous system: the school system. In Tokyo, for example, 129 “military athletes” from the four corps took part: Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri. To these must be added the Gold Flames of the Police or the Yellow Flames of Finance, 48 elements that have won 11 medals. Vanessa Ferrari? You are a select corporal of the Army. Marcell Jacobs is a policeman as well as Gianmarco Tamberi. Antonella Palmisano and Filippo Tortu? Financiers. And so on. This is an excellent part of our sports system which, however, is not enough to give stability to the movement and bring home to Paris another 40 medals, and maybe more and in more disciplines. But above all to make sure that those medals work as a lifeblood for grassroots sport, even outside the golden enclosure of military sports groups, often the only channels through which high-level or otherwise promising athletes have the opportunity to earn a salary and being able to train with the best teams in structures and centers that are up to par.

What could the Italian sports movement become if a real investment in sports at school were added to this formidable historical peculiarity? It is difficult to imagine it but we would certainly be able to undermine movements like the British one and clearly detach the French or German ones. The #Conibambini Educational Poverty Observatory, edited by Openpolis and Con i Bambini, explains for example that 13.8% of Italians do not do sport for economic reasons and therefore physical activity during school hours becomes the only one for many families opportunity for children to play sports. Too bad that in Italy schools do not generally have sports facilities such as gyms, tracks, fields or swimming pools. According to Miur data, the institutes equipped with at least one sports facility are less than half, 40.8%. The figure rises a little only in first cycle schools. But overall it exceeds 50% only in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Piedmont. In Milan itself, less than one in five schools has a gym. All this without considering that the presence of facilities of this type is not only important for school activities but, again, gives life to the territory, reduces school dropout, tightens the mesh of the community: the gyms are in fact often open to afternoon activities. affordable for everyone. This is how a movement is created.

It is no coincidence that the National Recovery and Resilience Plan of which we are collecting the first advance from the European Union reserves 300 million euros for the strengthening of infrastructures for school sports . An investment that should translate into 400 new gyms to be built within the next five years. It is a good thing, of course - even if a drop in the bucket, less than 4% of the needs - but sports culture does not only pass from the building: it passes from a new class of teachers, from a modification to the didactic approach, from attribution of a significant weight to evaluation in physical and motor education, with due sensitivity among students. And to close public-private relationships, that is, between territorial sports groups and institutes. The Pnrr also indicates that physical activity must be carried out in primary schools "also through the support of school sports tutors". Who are these tutors? Why, as the trade associations ask, is it not invested in specialized teachers as some bills have long stranded in the Houses of Parliament?

We are not the United States and Great Britain, we will never have the wonderful sports universe that characterizes colleges and high schools and churns out generations of top-level athletes, but a lot can be done already in the next few years to try to consolidate the Olympic results with which we now fill our mouths. And above all in order not to hide under the carpet of these forty splendid medals the structural problems that make the difference between phenomena and maturity.

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