Joel: a continuous surprise! – Sport for All

Joel finds his group of friends through sports

Out of the 200 children interviewed at the beginning of the year, Joel was one of the most difficult to engage. He had never played a sport and had never been with his peers outside of school, but being thirteen already, he strongly felt the desire to do so. He struggled to learn the rules and game strategies, but we knew that being part of a team would make him happier than any individual sport. Being autistic and highly sensitive, he has a big heart but a thin armor. Thanks to the All Inclusive Sport project, supported by Fondazione Milan under the Sport for All program, Joel was included in the Velorugby team.

Six months have passed. Joel puts his mouthguard in his Valorugby bag and goes to practice with a radiant smile: his teammates are waiting for him. In the past weeks, they have shown him videos explaining the game rules to help him understand and review them. On the field, they tackle him, but with caution, knowing that he fears physical contact. On Sundays, they reserve a seat for him in the stands during the First Team’s matches, and they enjoy the afternoon together, cheering, having drinks, and exchanging teenage banter.

Joel will not become a champion or a rugby strategist, but he will remember those afternoons when the coach started the plays with him, his teammates helped him find his role in the team, and the tutor accompanied him to practices and games on Sundays, supporting him during moments of crisis when the dynamics of the game exceeded his abilities.

Inclusion, respect, and a sense of belonging are the values we transmit to all our athletes every day, and we are thrilled that Joel has joined the group,” says Enrico Manghi, the head of the youth department.

“Joel is undergoing a very important personal enrichment journey in Valorugby,” says Stefano, the tutor. “It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t master the game. On the field, day after day, he learns to manage emotions and fears, nurturing his self-esteem and experiencing the joy of belonging to a group of peers.” “We are all friends,” Joel says with a smile.

Thanks to the support of BitMEX this year, we have helped many children fulfill their dreams, just as Joel has. Join the team and support the Sport for All program!