The first Italian national conference on universities and sport has been held in recent days at the University of Rome “Foro Italico”, organized by the network of 53 Italian universities Unisport Italia. The conference, attended by Under-Secretary at the Presidency of the Council in charge of Sport Valentina Vezzali, had a double objective: 1) to stimulate reflection on the profound cultural change taking place in our country concerning the relationship between university and sport, 2 to bring about projects and synergies between these two worlds on issues such as training, research, innovation, relations with territories. The Unisport Italia network was born in 2018 with the aim of fully enhancing the role of sport within the three missions of the University in Italy, namely training, research and the “third mission” (term with which they are summarizing the relations between the university and the territory). The network has grown from 40 to the current 53 participating universities and is made up of delegates from the rectors for sport of each university. The network was born from the realization that over the past 20 years the role of sport in the academy has changed profoundly, becoming for many sites not only a “useful pastime”, but a tool improvement of services to the university community, for formal transversal skills among its own graduates, to stimulate interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary projects having sport as a field of application, to promote the birth of start-ups and to initiate collaborations with companies already present on the the market, interacting with their own territory through inexpensive high social impact projects.
VEZZALI PRESENT – The theme proposed for the first edition was that of the dual career of student-athletes, that is to say the support by universities of those who seek to reconcile a high-level sporting career with an academic career. SOttoSecretary at the Presidency of the Council in charge of SportValentina Vezzali underlined that “as Unisport Italia demonstrates, there are virtuous experiences that can network, exchange good practices and make the training path of the promises of sport less tortuous”. The President of the CIP (Italian Paralympic Committee) Luca Pancalli also emphasized training: “I believe that today a country that does not invest in ways of cultural growth is a country that does not of future. The real social lift still today is represented by the instruction of the internships”. The president of Coni Giovanni Malagò underlined the importance of the table on the double career between Unisport Italia-Coni-Cusi, the Italian university sports center, while the president of the Istituto del Credito Sportivo Andrea Abodi, underlined “an extraordinary potential between universities and sport because both are frontiers of civic and social life”.