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OLIMPIADI GIOVENTU ITALIANA 2nd – 4th June 2012

OLIMPIADI GIOVENTU ITALIANA 2nd – 4th June 2012

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It was a privilege to attend this year’s OGI at Copthall. The weather might have been down but the uplifting spirits of all the competitors, organisers and supporters certainly helped to put a smile onto everyone’s face. This was my first time fully supporting Finchley over the whole event and I’m already waiting for the 2014 OGI in anticipation!

All the countless meetings and training sessions beforehand certainly paid off and what rich rewards the Finchley team reaped. From the off the cheers of ‘Forza Finchley’ rang out. Each day started with sleepy heads arriving at Copthall and quickly all woke up to Stefano’s stirring speeches of encouragement and then to Maria, Irene and Tina ‘shouting’ out the register, rallying the athletes. Every day the stand filled quickly and the blue of Finchley certainly stood out and songs and chants accompanied by tambourines quickly filled the morning air each day.

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The events I witnessed were spellbinding. Firstly the togetherness of all the competing teams as they toured around the track before the opening speeches, with Max proudly leading Finchley as the mascot. Then onto the competitive games. All athletes – no matter from which team – put in so much effort to achieve and made all their trainers and supporters so very proud. I was carried away by the sporting nature and goodwill of the whole OGI festival and by the 100% effort and commitment put in by all the athletes and all the coaches and marshals. The cheers for those last in any race equalled the cheers heralding the first over the winning line – and that’s how true sport should be so that all endeavours are appreciated. The warmth of the applause spurred all the children on to greater efforts. On the track some of the performances were awesome and it would be unfair to single any performance out; needless to say all age groups triumphed in what they achieved. Keeping warm was easy – you just had to clap and cheer.

As the days progressed the medals for Finchley ‘rained’ in: GOLD, GOLD, GOLD, GOLD and for good measure the occasional SILVER and BRONZE! Great performances came from the jumpers, throwers, runners, netballers, footballers and swimmers – the trainers quite rightly ‘glowing’ with pride in what they saw their competitors achieve. It was hard to keep an accurate score tally. It seemed as if many in the Finchley camp were pinching themselves in disbelief as each medal ceremony took Finchley further ahead...ending with an astonishing number of gold medals (was it really 53) to win the prized trophy – and what jubilant celebrations followed as supporters and competitors sang out loud their Finchley songs of glory...along to the strains of ‘Volare’.

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As for me I thoroughly enjoyed the three ‘golden’ days. I am in awe of all the prior organisation and the energy of all involved in the actual three days of the OGI festival...with some energy still left in the tanks to ‘party’ at Vita et Pax to welcome the team of Finchley home as champions! The whole London Italian community should be proud of holding such an event – Lord Coe could learn from it! The behaviour of all the children was inspiring. The sporting competiveness of all the children was of the highest order. And last but not least the sporting achievements and skills on show were quite breath taking – some of the performances were so memorable and of such a high quality and the final race ending with the two competitors racing to the finish line arm in arm summed up what the whole event achieved in terms of community togetherness and sportsmanship. All involved with the OGI should be so encouraged by the bonding between all the young athletes. For the athletes it is setting a foundation of unity on which to build their future, which is quite an outcome to aspire too. Personally, as a teacher who looks for opportunities for all young people, it is great to see the competitive events for the boys but even greater to see the opportunities provided for the girls – society says girls are not participating in or enjoying sports...well they should come to the OGI games.

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BRAVO Stefano, Maria, Gaetano and all the many who made it such a celebration of youth achievement and community solidarity. FORZA FINCHLEY.

Michael Squillario


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