25 November 2023
Azzurri delegation visit Bambino Gesù Children’s HospitalAhead of Italy’s match versus North Macedonia, FIGC President Gabriele Gravina, Secretary General Brunelli and Head Coach Spalletti, together with Di Lorenzo, Buffon, Peruzzi and Totti visited the children recovering in the Pediatric Hospital. Spalletti: “Nice to be here with Francesco”
Thursday, November 16, 2023
A moment of joy and light-heartedness ahead of Italy’s match tomorrow versus North Macedonia at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The young patients of the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital were visited by a delegation from the National Team, headed by the Federal President Gabriele Gravina and the Head Coach, Luciano Spalletti. Alongside them, a present Azzurro, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and three 2006 World Cup winners, the head of the delegation, Gigi Buffon, Angelo Peruzzi and Francesco Totti, who has always been very close to the children in the hospital. An affectionate link shared with Spalletti, who invited Roma’s former captain to meet them for this special occasion a couple of days ago.
“The National Team’s visit to the pediatric wards of the Bambino Gesù Hospital in Rome has become a nice tradition now, it is an experience full of special meanings for the closeness and friendship that we want to share with the little patients,” declared FIGC President Gabriele Gravina. “Going to visit them, every time we are overwhelmed by their joy, despite their difficulties, which represents a real ode to life. The compassion of the Federation and coach Spalletti, who has always been committed to social initiatives was shared by the two Azzurri heroes, two extraordinary world champions like Peruzzi and Totti, who have provided the children with some peace, showing them attention and affection.” The partnership with Bambino Gesù, launched in 2015, has continued through numerous initiatives. As well as the National Team’s two visits in 2019 and 2021, when Italy last played in Rome, the FIGC were again at the Hospital’s side with various activities, from fundraising to awareness campaigns, from the donation of medical instruments to the delivery of presents at Christmas and Easter.
After a warm embrace with Totti, Spalletti told how he left this experience feeling enriched: “Every time I come here, I feel like I have given 1 and received 1000. These children see us as superheroes, in reality, it is they who have the superpower of love, which they show us in the beauty that is life. We are here and we learn so much every time.” And on the subject of meeting Roma’s former captain, he added: “There could not have been a better occasion to meet at. If we can give this moment to someone else, it is even better: we don’t do things for ourselves but for others. There were so many people who were happy to see this reconciliation, even though underneath it all, we never really argued, rather we always held each other in esteem. And in a time of conflict, in which we grown-ups tend to argue a lot, being here and embracing each other, letting the children see it through their eyes, can be a message for an even better future.”
Totti, as well, overcome with affection from the children, commented: “The embrace with Spalletti was secondary. This was a special day for the children who we came to visit. We had this day together and we managed to reconcile. Therefore, the embrace was mostly for the children, which is much more important. What did we say to each other? Nothing, because we have a relationship that has always gone beyond football. simple glance is enough for us and it’s all concluded in a hug.” Finally, regarding Italy vs. North Macedonia: “Tomorrow is an important game for everyone, there’s no need to tell him that. He knows how to handle these situations.”
The National Team delegation, arriving directly from the Coverciano camp, was welcomed by Dr. Massimiliano Raponi, Medical Director of Bambino Gesù and then met with President Tiziano Onesti and General Manager, Antonio Perno for an exchange of gifts: President Gravina handed over a national team jersey, signed by Spalletti and Buffon, and a pennant embroidered with the date of the meeting, whilst the hospital donated a drawing made in the children’s playroom.
The delegation first met the children at the ‘castle of games’ playing football and taking penalty kicks with the children. They then visited the Oncology, General and Specialist Paediatrics wards before exchanging gifts. The delegation presented the children with a jersey signed by Di Lorenzo as well as the balls they played with. President Gravina was then presented with the OPBG (Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital) pennant whilst Spalletti was gifted a cup they made as well as a poster bearing the slogan ‘Strong children, strong destinies,’ quoting a now famous phrase from the coach from Certaldo.
FIGC/BAMBINO GESÙ PARTNERSHIP
2015 - Patients and medical staff experience a day with the Azzurri at Coverciano
- Meeting with Head Coach Antonio Conte at the hospital, the day before EURO 2016, press conference with the children posing all the questions
2019 - FIGC partnered the initiatives for Bambino Gesù’s 150th anniversary
- Ahead of the match against Greece (October 2019), the National Team met recovering patients; two days later, over 5000 people (patients, family, employees and volunteers) from Bambino Gesù were invited to the Stadio Olimpico
- EUR 50 thousand contribution for the purchase of a machine to analyse the presence of DNA mutations in diagnostic samples, delivered to the San Paolo site.
2020 - During the pandemic, the FIGC helped with the fundraising campaign promoted by the hospital, delivered Christmas gifts at the Gianicolo, Palidoro and Santa Marinella sites and promoted, with the participation of the Azzurri and Azzurre, the 'Yes Mask' communication campaign to encourage the correct use of the mask.
- Presentation of the UEFA Foundation For Children Award (nomination submitted by FIGC) to the Bambino Gesù Hospital for its commitment to children, with a contribution of EUR 50,000 for the development of a multimedia project on the relationship between sport and health.
2021 - FIGC and Bambino Gesù renew their partnership agreement.
- A special edition of Uno is made ahead of EURO 2020 in June 2021, the proceeds are donated to the Hospital
- 10 November 2021, the National Team returned to Bambino Gesù; part of the ticket proceeds from Italy vs Switzerland is donated.
2023 - The inauguration of the new Paediatric Palliative Care Centre in Passoscuro, built with a contribution from the FIGC. A 5-storey building, renovation works cost about 3 million euros, largely covered by donations, including FIGC as a major donor.