Italian athletes at CONI for the “Stronger Together” forum. Malagò: “Our system is unique in the world”


Moving forward together, network building, creating a community and strengthening the voice of our athletes. This is the aim of the CONI National Athletes’ Commission (CNA), outlined in the “Stronger Together” forum organised in CONI’s Salone d’Onore at the Foro Italico. “I’m very pleased: with Raffaella Masciadri (President of the CONI National Athletes’ Commission) we have been talking about this meeting for some time”, declared CONI President Giovanni Malagò in his speech at the forum. “I get asked around the world how Italy performs so well given the shortcomings of sport in its schools and the condition of its sports facilities, as well as the divergence between the north, centre and south and its socio-economic issues. It is very simple: we are unique in the world. Everyone tries to understand and even copy us, but our system is so singular that it is not replicable, like a trademark. It is a totally upturned model: everyone else starts with schools, while we base everything on amateur sports clubs and associations. And it works, because in 2022 we are doing even better than in 2021: we are ranked third in the world having won more medals than the 283 we won last year, and the year is not even over yet. Only United States and Australia have done better: we are also ahead of China, which is mind-boggling. However, we must improve, and we will do so with your support and your great expertise. We would not exist if it was not for the athletes”.

The “Stronger Together” forum was opened with a greeting from CONI Secretary General Carlo Mornati: “I am excited because Raffaella Masciadri’s idea is like the egg of Columbus. Gathering you all together has not happened for nearly thirty years and, aside from the content, is very significant in itself. I am a product of the athletes' commissions and it is really good to see that we are an active part of the movement. This is not a trade union. You do not represent athletes but rather sport itself. You implement all the issues across the board. We are central to the movement, as demonstrated by the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission, even if we do not always realise it. But we should be aware of it: the sports movement would not exist without us”, stressed Carlo Mornati.

In the opening part of the proceedings, in the presence of Deputy Vice-President Silvia Salis, Vice-President Claudia Giordani and representatives of the athletes from the various National Sports Federations and Associated Sports Disciplines, IOC member Federica Pellegrini explained how the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission works: “I’ve been working on it for a year and it’s really a blessing”, said the swimming champion. “Hearing how loudly our voice resonates at an international level is really important. The IOC Athletes’ Commission is a central network providing support. I am here today to urge all federations, because having an Athletes’ Commission is fundamental: I implore you, let athletes have a voice”. 

CONI National Athletes’ Commission President Raffaela Masciadri and Vice-President Carlo Molfetta then explained the role of the board, while Antonella Del Core and Cristina Lenardon spoke about the regulations of the National Athletes’ Commission. “The name of the forum, ‘Stronger Together’, is taken from the campaign launched by the IOC for the Tokyo Games; a message of hope and unity that we wish to make our own”, explained Masciadri. “Sport has the irresistible power to unite people and we are here today together to network, to collaborate synergistically and to make our athletes’ voices better heard. We want to create a community. There are so many issues to discuss: we ask you to become the spokespersons for our projects, to disseminate them as widely as possible, and at the same time to share your initiatives with us”, added the President of the CONI National Athletes' Commission Board Committee, addressing the representatives of the athletes from the various National Sports Federations and Associated Sports Disciplines present in the CONI Salone d’Onore.

In the second part of the forum, the initiatives carried out by the Board were presented and discussed. Carlo Molfetta and Federico Pellegrino, together with Andrea Benassi, ICS Social Responsibility and Sustainability Project Manager, and Monica Rivelli, FEDUF Project Development Manager, talked about the “Financial Education and Sport’ project” aimed at raising athletes' awareness of the issues regarding economic citizenship, money management awareness, financial planning, savings, economic legality and self-entrepreneurial skills. “It is a valuable opportunity and I have been able to witness it first-hand”, said Pellegrino, two-time Olympic podium finisher in his career in cross-country skiing. “I started winning and consequently earning when I was young. I made a few mistakes in my growth and savings management, but I was lucky because I thought about investing in myself and managed to build a career rich in both sporting and financial satisfaction. But having financial education tools would have really helped me”.

CONI board member Paolo Pizzo then presented the dual career guidelines alongside Marco Fichera, CUSI Representative, and Paolo Bouquet, President of Unisport Italia, after the launch of the first dual career database ( “We have worked on it for six months, a debate that was both intense yet very productive and it was good to do it harmoniously. This project is one of our main targets and I am particularly proud of it. Now we will also discuss it with the Italian Paralympic Committee and then the next step, which is a very ambitious one, will be to systemise these guidelines by talking to the institutional bodies” Pizzo declared.

CONI Vice President Silvia Salis, together with Tatiana Andreoli, Italian archer and member of the CONI National Council and Simona Pantò, Head of Marketing & Communication at Gruppo Barletta, talked about the MyLLENNIUM AWARD - MySPORT award, dedicated to dual careers and reserved for Under-30 athletes. “This award rewards excellence; it is only given if the projects are of the highest standards. It is very important to talk about dual careers; athletes have to make an important cultural shift: we have to make ourselves heard, and to do so, we must learn the dynamics of sports politics”, outlined Salis. “This recognition is very important. Being inspired by the values of sport can also help us on the professional career path once our sporting career is over. We would like to take this project to all the federations and associated disciplines across the country so that as many athletes as possible will be able to participate: we rely on you for this”, explained Andreoli addressing the representatives of the athletes of the various National Sports Federations and Associated Sports Disciplines present in the CONI Salone d’Onore.

Elena Pantaleo and Francesco Marrai, meanwhile, spoke about the “Atleta Eccellente, Eccellente Studente” (Excellent Student, Excellent Athlete) competition named after the late Filippo Mondelli, a project aimed at promoting successful experiences in sport as well as in education, summed up in the symbol of the degree. “The opportunities on offer are incredible”, emphasised world kickboxing champion, Elena Pantaleo, “I was lucky because I had the chance to study thanks to my parents and I am now doing a master’s degree on a full scholarship at Sapienza University. But too many athletes are unaware of these projects: it is crucial to teach athletes that they can study and play sport too; times have changed”. “I graduated in nautical engineering from the University of Genoa, a very demanding but very informative course, an experience that also helped me in sport”, said competitive sailor Marrai, a member of the CONI National Council. “The winners will be announced in the coming weeks”.

The “Stronger Together” forum, which is one of the projects supported by the ICO through Olympic Solidarity, aimed at promoting the Olympic principles and helping National Olympic Committees to prepare athletes for future challenges in their sporting and professional lives, concluded with an illustration of possible future steps towards growing the CONI National Athletes’ Commission. “We need to convey these messages together and promote our projects, which are sometimes still little known and yet are very important for young people”, explained Anna Cappellini, a member of the CONI National Council. “We wish to create a community because only by moving together are we able to move forward” Masciadri concluded.

(Photo Mezzelani/GMT)