The soccer team NoWalls wants to fight racism in sports. Its players hail from 14 different countries. Now, Italian sportswear company Umbro has become the sponsor of the team.
The team of the NoWalls Internazionale FC is made up of refugees and migrants. The team was founded by the Milan-based NoWalls association, which promotes the integration of immigrants in Italy.
Players from 14 countries
NoWalls Internazionale Fc plays in the Master Acli soccer championship. It is Italy's most international team with players from 14 countries, including Nigeria, Kosovo, Gambia and Mali.
The project's primary objective is to create a soccer team that is a playful tool of integration, explained Claudio Ceriani, who is responsible for sports activities at NoWalls.
"By having fun, we teach players at NoWalls how to be an organized, disciplined group that can fairly win competitive challenges. We are convinced that youths who are trained by our team in a professional and kind manner feel welcomed and accepted. Moreover, by being together and playing together, by being loyal and fair, we show the people we meet how unfounded the fears paving the way to racism are," he said.
Sport as 'a tool to tear down barriers'
On the field the only thing that counts is the color of the team's jersey, said Michela Tedone, marketing manager at Umbro Italia. Respect and sharing experiences are part of Umbro's values, according to Tedone. Football and sport experienced by everyone in a "joyful, authentic and democratic manner" has been a key part of the 95-year-old brand's missions, she said, adding: "We strongly believe that sport can be a great vehicle of integration ... -- a tool to tear down barriers and create connections."