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the captain’s retirement from the national team

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the captain’s retirement from the national team

At Viola Park, the 140th and last appearance in blue for Sara Gama, flag and face of women’s Italy.

There is a photo at the Quirinale in which Giorgio Chiellini, Gigi Buffon, Sergio Mattarella and Sara Gama appear. It is one of the many shots of the celebrations of the 120th anniversary of the FIGC which fell in October 2018. In that year, after twenty absences, the Italians had achieved qualification for the 2019 World Cup in France after the historic matches against Belgium and Portugal. And also a place at events of this type. In a certain sense, he had conquered the Quirinale on the field. He will return there a few months later with the 11pm selection, once again a guest of Mattarella after the quarter-final lost against Sarina Wiegman’s Holland. In that case, Sara Gama had the burden and honor of speaking in the presence of the authorities and all her companions.

A high school friend of mine always told me that when she was anxious about a test she imagined the teacher sitting on the toilet and managed to calm down. Did Gama imagine Mattarella like this or did you think of Mattarella’s face printed on his superTele instead of Batman? Or she must have had enough courage on her own. If you think about it, it’s very Sara Gama-like. In 2005 when she was called up to the Under 17 national team – the first u17 selection in the history of Italian football – she stepped forward spontaneously when she was looking for a volunteer to become captain. In the end she doesn’t wear the armband right away, she is given to the oldest on the team, but that day she has already started a career.

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In July 2008, in France, with the Italian u19s who will then be there golden era of Italian women’s football, raises the first European in the category to the sky. Also in that national team were Martina Rosucci, Elisa Bartoli, Alice Parisi, girls who with her will also share the second France team, that of the 2019 World Cup. One thing that many don’t know, however, is that in that national team that returned victorious there was an old Italian data, a protagonist of Italian football who recently passed away: Gigi Riva. It was Gama himself, with a post published on his social profiles, to remember that moment of Gigi Riva, that experience that no one, from television to newspapers, had cared to highlight. And I like to think that the great old man, unlike others, did not make too many distinctions in his delicate and obscure work as accompanist of the Italian selections.

When I was in middle school, another friend of mine at the time lent me a book. It was called “But how many are the stars”, was Giulia Carcasi’s debut novel. The peculiarity of the text was that it could be read from two points of view, Carlo’s and Alice’s. Quite literally it could be read from two different perspectives: on one side there was the cover of Alice’s story and on the other that of Carlo’s story. The history of the world is not like that. The history of the world is written in a book that can only be read in one direction and from one point of view, that of man. For centuries women have not been told, they have not had the space to tell and tell about themselves from their own point of view. And so it is in sport. It was so for a long time, then some slowly began to break the deadlock.

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Sara Gama, for example, was born in the year in which breaking taboos seemed simple: 1989. In that year the Berlin Wall fell to pieces, and with it the Iron Curtain, the metaphor of the impassable. She was the end of an era. Gama was born then in Trieste, Central Europe in the heart of Central Europe, from an Italian mother and a Congolese father. With his 139 appearances (140 with tonight’s match at Viola Park, ed), is the athlete Afro-Italian who wore the blue shirt several times. And several times in the last twenty years it happened that someone commented in a racist way on his presence on the pitch, recalling the lack of alleged Italian chromosomes.

But for over fifteen years the Italy of women’s football, especially in its image at an international level, has been Sara Gama. Unmistakable hair and leadership, at the center of the defense until supplies last, sometimes recycled full-back, she is a long-time captain by acclamation and merits on the field. On 30 November 2020, Gama was elected vice-president of the AIC, the Italian Footballers’ Association, and is the first woman to hold this position. When asked about the new coach Soncin of the national team during the ATP Tennis Finals in Turin, Gama declared that it is skills that make the difference. “There is certainly work to be done on the number of coaches, women we qualify – he said – a mix of genders is always important in every work environment. What needs to be done today, and is already being done, is to study more and more what concerns health and women in general, be it maternity or the specificity of the cycle […] work sessions must be adapted to these parameters. We are on a path of improvement.”

The mix is ​​important contamination, but the relationship is still that of the opening photo. Parodying the famous film by Aldo Giovanni and Giacomo, we are Three Men and a… Gama. In photos, at tables, in discussions, in stadiums. Some people today, after retiring from the national team, talk about the end of an era, but, if I understood Sara Gama, she honestly thinks I did, nothing is coming to an end. Sara Gama has already closed the era, the past one, before the FIGC management, professionalism, TV, competitions, opening another one, the current one, which continues. And not only because she will still wear the shirt of her club, Juventus, of which she is, needless to say, captain and where she still has a few shots to offer, but because she has not fulfilled herself. The evolution, growth, organization and representation of Italian women’s football are still blank pages to be written for the future.

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So, will Gama leave the national team? “Yes, but nothing serious.”

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