Baseball5 provides prisoners in Italy with hope for personal growth and new beginnings

Baseball5 provides prisoners in Italy with hope for personal growth and new beginnings
The FIBS "Sport in Prison - Return home" project starts from Rebibbia Prison in Rome

The Sport in Prison - Homecoming project was launched by the Federation Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) in collaboration with the Department of Penitentiary Administration (DAP) and Rebibbia Prison in Rome under the supervision of director Dr. Rosella Santoro.

FIBS President Andrea Marcon and FIBS Secretary General Giampiero Curti have always believed in the rehabilitative Rebibbia Prison project , which started in 2020 but was suspended due to the pandemic . In addition to an exciting and exhilarating personal experience playing Baseball5, "Sport in Prison - Return home" participants interact with fellow inmates socially and develop a sense of sportsmanship and community.

With merely a softball used and no other equipment necessary for Baseball5, the Italian prison system has been eager to experiment with the new program developed by FIBS. Coaches Fabio Borselli, Andrea De Angelis and Andrea Stefanoni have spearheaded the movement alongside umpires Lorenzo Menicucci, Simone Minicucci and Fabrizio Bordi with the support of Sports Psychologist Sara Biondi.

The program was launched on December 1, 2020, when 25 prisoners from Rebibbia were selected to participate. Director Dr. Rosella Santoro asked G11 Sector Inspector Cinzia Silvano to supervise 11 inmates, while G8 Sector Inspector Erminio Rossi was requested to oversee 14 inmates.

After watching a series of Baseball5 instructional videos, participants were given two 90 minutes lessons per week over a period of four months. After two months of practice, FIBS brought in Baseball5 players, coaches, and umpires for an exhibition game. Two months later an intramural game between the FIBS team and the intakes took place. At the end of the four-month period, a Baseball5 Certificate of Participation was given to participating inmates to certify they have acquired the required knowledge to play the sport and have been a positive role model for those inside the institution.

With one year of the program under their belt, many of those responsible for the success of the FIBS “Sport in Prison - Return home" initiative expressed their proud sense of satisfaction.

Fabio Borselli spoke about his positive experience coaching the G11 team. He said,: “Not only did it give me a really good feeling, but it was interesting and engaging. You can already see their progress. Some of them are really good players.”

Umpire Lorenzo Menicucci was in charge of the G8 Sector. He commented, “14 prisoners took part and were divided into 3 teams. They alternated on offense, defense and refereeing. We started with simple exercises and gradually added new things by explaining the rules of the game and then moving from the basics to more advanced exercises."

Coach Andrea De Angelis said, “Enthusiasm filled the air without performance anxiety and fear. It was a positive experience overall from the start. We had a lot of fun together.”

Dr. Sara Biondi concluded: “It was a good experience from the start with good management, enthusiasm, fun and competition. A positive beginning to what I hope will help our population inside as well as in when they return home to the outside world." Forza #Italia!

by Roberto Angotti