A social inclusion project for young men with disabilities, that goes beyond the limits of a football pitch.
Disability is not a limit, but simply one of the characteristics of the human condition.
This is the fundamental principle of Juventus for Special project, born within the context of the Juventus Goals to favour inclusion of people with cognitive-relational disabilities through sport.
Football plays a crucial role in the initiative. The young men on the various teams experience a true competitive context, from the composition of the technical staff, to the training sessions, to management of the locker room, and all the way to the line-up selection for the games. The players are athletes by all means, and as in every football team, they must fight to make the cut by working hard and earning a starter’s jersey thanks to good sports performance.
This philosophy also goes in favour of the social aspect. The sense of belonging that has developed towards Juventus for Special strengthens the athletes’ selfawareness and confidence. The young men take the field with the hunger to constantly improve and go beyond their limits, proudly boasting the prestigious black-and-white stripes.
The 2017/2018 season marked the debut of the Juventus for Special players on the pitches of the “Quarta Categoria” (4th division), the 7-a-side football tournament dedicated exclusively to young men with cognitive and relational disabilities. The tournament, in which the team members are subdivided based upon their degree of disability in three homogenous categories – Quarta (4th), Quinta (5th), and Sesta (6th).
In the 2018/2019 season, Juventus has confirmed its commitment towards every category, making over 70 staff and players available for the teams.
Juventus for Special is a social inclusion project that goes well beyond sport. In fact, the related staff and players are also featured in educational activities in schools and other local venues.
In the 2018/2019 school year, the Juventus For Special@School educational project has involved over 2,000 students of every grade and level – in elementary, middle and high school – in active lessons subdivided in two phases:
The first moment is experimental, trying to recreate at the school gyms the difficulties of three types of disability in a simple and direct way. This activity – created and coordinated by the Juventus for Special players – has the aim to demonstrate and make the students directly experience the feelings that an athlete with disability encounters during his sport activity, as in football. The second moment focus on debates, triggered by a series of accounts and stories by the Juventus for Special athletes and staff. Its aim is to share the experiences and normalize them, in order to overcome prejudice related to disability.
Every meeting ends with a final moment of feedbacks, conclusions and reflections on the experience After the lesson lots of participants admit and realize their own stigmatizing perspectives, and how preconstructed concepts are a limit to the inclusion of friends, classmates and people with disabilities, whichever they may be.