The New Italians: AS Velasca and Kaylè United
Our Italian photographer is Alessandro Belussi, a freelance photographer and filmmaker from Franciacorta, between Brescia and Bergamo in northern Italy. A former football player and now a coach with a UEFA C license, Alessandro has worked for amateur and professionals teams in the north of Italy as assistant and coach, and with a group of coaches now runs a football club with 200 members aged 6-19. Alessandro told us about alternative football clubs in northern Italy and his hopes for the future of Italian football.
Who is in the photos?
Many of the photos are of Kaylè United, a psychiatric patients’ team that plays in UISP (Unione Italiana Sport Per tutti) championship for mental health. Some are health workers like the girl and boy with the No. 14 shirt. The photos are taken in Rovato and Martinengo (in between Bergamo and Brescia), as they play weekly in the north of Italy.
Other photos are of AS Velasca, taken in Milan near to Stadio Meazza Milano. One photo is of Augusto (Gusto) Zanni – he has been part of the same team for 40 years (and is still there) first as a player, then as a young coach, then president and manager and now as groundsman. The name of the team he works for is ASD Capriolo 1912.
What did you try to show with the photos? Was there any wider meaning with the photos?
I tried to show what football is in Italy, far from cliché of Serie A and professional teams – showing an alternative purpose of football in north of Italy. For Italian people football is life with good and bad things. Football is mixed with all moments of everyday life: art, health, culture, and social care.
UISP is a social and sport association that aims to extend the right to play sport to all citizens, organising football tournaments at all levels and also for other sports. It is an ideal source of inspiration for FIGC (Italian Football Federation) to convey everything that I think is missing in the world of Italian football (art, culture, school education, social inclusion).
What is interesting about AS Velasca?
AS Velasca and Kaylè United show different ways of making football. AS Velasca aspire to be an important and influential part of the future of football in Milan.
One of the chants of the AS Velasca supporters is: “Milan will be us!” This refers to AC Milan and Internazionale supporters competing for the primacy of the city who use the chant “Milan saremo noi” and reply “Milano siamo!” AS Velasca aspire to be the team of the future.
Why is football so important for Italy and Italians? -What role does football play in Italy and Italian society?
I think that football plays a very important role for Italian people - it is a religion. In particular non-professional football has very interesting stories to tell about how Italy works Italy and who the Italian people are.
Unfortunately in recent times we are witnessing not very healthy football. Many presidents and team leaders, even with the very small teams, use football to win and clean up dirty money. They also create teams with more than 200 players just to regain illegally obtained money. The priorities are no longer to create good footballers or sporting culture, but only to get money.
But there are still some people who can be a example and kick off a new way of doing football, similar to many years ago when we were among the symbolic nations of world football.
What does football mean to you?
Football is football. It’s a beautiful thing, something that makes you to say “WOOOW”. It is a child that can express himself with freedom. It is someone who can dream about being a football player, an artist.
What is the future for Italian football?
I cannot think of Italy without football but I think that Italian football needs a new model for football on a larger scale – it cannot be just sport. To become more interesting and powerful it should embrace new people and interests, mixing sports skills with education, art, culture and social inclusion. Football in Italy has to change in some way. Business is not enough anymore.