16.04.2021 Merano Dialogues with S. Gambino & R. Abeywickrama: Cricket, breeding ground for the new italians

Merano Dialogues with Simone Gambino, founder and honorary president of the Italian Cricket Federation and Roshendra Abeywickrama, former champion of the National team.

Almost twenty years ago the Italian cricket had already shown how it could be solved, with the common sense of sport, the issue of recognition of Italian citizenship to young people born or raised in our country by foreign parents.

This is the subject of Federico Guiglia’s video-conference interviews with Simone Gambino, founder and honorary president of the Italian Cricket Federation, and with Roshendra Abeywickrama, former champion of the Italian national team. Gambino tells the story of a sport that has united in the teams, but especially in the National team, Italian boys and boys of the same age of Sinhalese, Indian and Pakistani origin, all proud to play for the Azzurri and to sing the Mameli anthem. And yet, many of them, starting with the witness and testimonial of the case, Roshendra, were able to play in the national team only thanks to the recognition of a “ius sportivo”, i.e. residence for a few years in Italy, where these youngsters studied and trained, as a requisite to compete as full-fledged Italians.

But the paradox is that Roshendra and boys like him, who have contributed to the success of the national team thanks to the far-sighted solution found by Coni, have never been granted Italian citizenship. “I feel Italian, citizenship remains my dream,” says Roshendra, who in the meantime has graduated in engineering in Great Britain, where British citizenship was granted after six years of residence. “But I want to go back home, I want to go back to Italy and I hope to work one day as an engineer for Ferrari,” says Roshendra, who is 29 years old. But who, as a 12-year-old, was the star of a miraculous story in 2004. Clinging to a tree in Sri Lanka, her country of birth, Roshendra managed to save herself when that entire area was swept away by the tsunami that killed 200,000 people. He has since reached Italy, where his parents worked as domestic servants. Since then he became a sports champion and a very Italian engineer. But still without Italian citizenship.