Napoli football star Kalidou Koulibaly has donated uniforms and towels to the football team Arci Mediterraneo, whose players are immigrant citizens, to support this initiative of integration.
Jerseys, shorts, socks and towels for the post-game shower are part of a gift made on Wednesday (May 25) by football star Kalidou Koulibaly to the team Arci Mediterraneo, a Naples-based club with immigrant players. Koulibali plays as center-back for Serie A club Napoli and captains the Senegalese national team.
Arci Mediterraneo has operated since 2015 in Naples with the idea that soccer can have a great role in supporting social integration and the cohabitation of people from different countries, teaching the values of sport, and promoting the direct participation of immigrants in the local social and cultural life.
Koulibaly recently paid a visit to the team during training and this week sent his gift to support it.
'I was speechless'
Mariano Anninciello, the manager of Arci Mediterraneo, said the soccer star "had promised he would keep an eye on us" and then "surprised us". "He sent the team of Arci Mediterraneo, composed of migrants, jerseys and everything they need to compete in a dignified way -- towels included! He left us, as usual, speechless. He surprised us and moved us for the discretion and humility" of the gesture, said Anninciello.
"When he visited the team he told us: 'I will speak on your behalf, I have the strength and the duty to do it' and we felt stronger in our battle against racism and discrimination."
Team an example of integration
The team's athletes live in different hosting centers, both extraordinary reception centers and Italy's system of reception and integration SAI, in the area of Naples. They include citizens of Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria, Mali, Ivory Coast and Guinea. War, hunger, racial and religious persecution or, much more simply, the desire for a better life far from the limitations of their land, have led them to Italy.
The team's captain, Abdoulaye Tounkara, who comes from Senegal but is originally from Gabon, is an example of integration. He was enrolled in a SPRAR hosting project in 2014, quickly learned Italian and then became a cultural mediators, thanks to his fluency in seven African dialects.
The team trains at ASD Kodokan, one of the largest gyms in Italy, in Piazza Carlo III, in Naples, inside the Real Albergo dei Poveri. Over the past few years, the team has joined many competitions and events for amateurs, obtaining excellent results.