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University Of Bologna
A beautiful story is to be told about the University Sports Centre of Bologna, the Alma Mater Studiorum’s sports sector since 1946. It is a beautiful story, because in this area sports have always been undertaken at a high level with professionalism and enthusiasm, with plenty of scope for discovering and developing new talents. Many of these young men and women have become champions, following in a pattern that seems etched into CUS Bologna’s DNA, where sport runs alongside etiquette, education and study.
The important standing of CUS Bologna on a national level is evident from the data we have of the centre’s early days as well as from its most recent achievements. Just after World War II, five universities, including Bologna, founded the Italian University Sports Centre (CUSI) creating various branches (CUS). Therefore, it is no coincidence that the first National University Championships in 1947–a true showcase for the athletes donning the bicorne–were held under the shadow of the Two Towers of Bologna in Dall’Ara Stadium (at the time the City Stadium).
In 1997, for the fiftieth anniversary of CUSI, the championships were organised by CUS Bologna in Rimini. It was one of the best events. But the most successful championships for the students of the Alma Mater were held recently at Campobasso, where 28 of our athletes won medals, outperforming all the other universities and proving our athletic and competitive abilities, as well as our organisational skills. The beautiful story that belongs to the white and red of CUS Bologna tells of shields, Italy Cups, blue shirts (worn by athletes representing Italy in international competitions) and world champions. Many are the names that have gone down in the university’s sporting history over the course of 65 years. In 1952, Celso Mongardi, an engineering student and decathlete, was the first to win an Italian title.
Then there were the national qualifications for field hockey (1955, 1997, Italy Cup in 1975 and 2002, Italian indoor title in 1997, 1999 and 2002). In 2001, Mauro Calibani became world champion in sport climbing, while volleyball–at its height in the 1970s–made the charismatic Nerio Zanetti (remember the shield won by Zinella in 1985?) into a national guru for the sport. However, we had to wait until the 1980s to witness a genuine boom in track and field with Alessandra Bonfiglioli, Barbara Fiammengo, Ester Balassini, Stefania Baldari, Claudia Legali, Silvia Serra, Licia Bagnoli, Roberta Stagni, Stefania Vivarelli, Stefania Strumillo, Gianni Bruzzi, Matteo Resca, Marco Chini, Francesco Masetti, Daniele Vincenzi and many other athletes of great merit bringing home the medals.
Apart from discovering new talents, CUS Bologna makes the most of, and promotes, new amateur sports bearing strong educational roots. How can we forget the titles won in orienteering by Verena Troi and Dario Beltramba of yesteryear and of Marco Seppi and Michela Guizzardi of today? Or the sailing club that has organised as many as eight Alma Mater Sailing Cup events and the 2005 University World Match Racing Championships? Or even Nordic skiing with Pierluigi Papa, Giacomo Calzolari, Giuseppe Monaco and their thousand adventures in the Skiroll? And what about Ultimate Frisbee, the quintessence of educational sports, that CUS Bologna chose as the sport for high schools and university, launching it at the 20th International University Tournament? We reached the top at national and international level for both men and women. Among the latest up-and-comers is rugby–today comprised of over 200 young people from high schools and up into university–and canoeing, fronted by the Olympic slalom canoeing champion Stefano Cipressi, a graduating psychology student.
The support needed to promote university sports–involving more than 12,000 students a year–also arises from the development of the sports facilities, which reached its peak in the 1990s; under the rector Professor Fabio Alberti Roversi Monaco, the highly functional Palacus and the Record University Sports Centre were built. It is here that disciplines such as fencing and sport climbing have prospered.
However, the work of the CUS has not been limited to Bologna; with the decentralisation of the university, sports went along with it, encompassing the veterinary school in Ozzano and the Romagna campuses of Cesena, Rimini, Forlì and Ravenna. The cultural initiatives and sports events promoted by CUS Bologna are many: from the Inauguration of the Academic Sports Year (a genuine public account of the year’s sporting activities) to the Etnicus tournament for the university’s many and varied foreign student communities, and from the promotion of physical activity in elementary schools to orientation for sports and university studies in high schools. The story continues… today there is talk of CUS Bologna and the university organising an event of epic proportions like the
Universiade (World Student Games) in Bologna. The event may take place in 2019, uniting city and university in a sole commitment, all in the spirit of sport. Everything that has happened and all that is to come are due to the effort and drive of many university athletes who dedicate their free time, their professionalism and their passion to sports–first and foremost as athletes, but also as leaders. This is what constitutes the true power of university sports. We extend our thanks to all of them.
Article by Francesco Franceschetti Photos by Sergio Caminata
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