Italy vs Ireland Test Match a Success
February 7 was a very special day for the Italian Wheelchair Rugby team, as they met the Irish Gaelic Warriors squad in Rome.
It was the first time the All Blues played an official match in Rome (the Italian Wheelchair Rugby movement started off only three years ago) and they managed to put up a great show of sport and positive vibes for the spectators of the Stella Azzurra Basket Arena, showing all their athletic skills and energy.
Despite their defeat by 58-38, Italy fought strenuously since the first minutes of the match. The experience of the Irish team and the incredible speed of some of their young players helped them increase their points throughout the match: 5 by the end of the first quarter (13-8), 10 by the second (28-18) and definitely off their own way to victory by the end of the third (45-28). During the last minutes of the encounter, Italy probably played at their best, though the Irish side was able to keep their team compact and prevail with their better athletic condition.
Luca Pancalli, President of the Italian Paralympic Committee (CIP), exhorted the athletes and the event's organisers to keep working in this direction as "CIP is struggling to promote sports for the disabled in our country”, he said. “Passion, determination and heart are the same feelings shared by able-bodied and disabled athletes. The kids and children that are here today represent our future generations and will help us build a better and more equal country".
FISPES President Sandrino Porru added: "It is a memorable day. Olympic and Paralympic worlds are gathering today, because sports are home for everybody. Our mission is to help creating an increasingly united movement. It is important to keep supporting wheelchair rugby and similar promotional events, so our guys can keep expressing their potentials. Sports are a life school that can fully contribute to build a lively society".
Italian Actress Nancy Brilli was at the Arena as event's ambassador: "It is the first time I participate in such an event and it surely won't be the last one. There's a great amount of strength and energy showed by these players, which I didn't expect. It is a beautiful show to watch".
The joyful atmosphere went on with the post-match celebrations taking place at the nearby Unione Rugby Capitolina, where the prize giving ceremony took place. The two teams received both a trophy for participating in the friendly match and drank beer from the same "cup" in typical Irish tradition. Young Irish player #23 Thomas Moylen was awarded as the Most Valuable Player of the match.
The two national teams then took their way towards the Olympic Stadium, where they were warmly welcomed and celebrated by the over 60,000 spectators of the Italy vs Ireland 6 Nations Rugby match. They were announced by the speaker and pictures of the morning’s WCR event were shown on the screens of the stadium.
Photos courtesy Adriano Di Benedetto
FISPES – Italian Federation of Paralympic and Experimental Sports