A Different kind of Football in Rome
When September hits in Italy, nothing is more important than calcio, also known as soccer, also known as football. In the United States though, fall weather goes hand in hand with Football…but a different kind of Football. American Football to be more specific. One might think that Italy wants nothing to do with this kind of American Football, however that is not the case, and might not be seen this way for too much longer.
Right in the city of Rome in fact, you can find quite a prestigious Football program that is determined to grow the game out on the Eastern side of the world. Legio XIII Roma is Rome’s American Football club. We call it a club because that’s exactly what it is, not just one team. Not only does it have a competitive team for men aged 18+ but it offers youth programs at every level.
Rome City’s very own Giorgio Scarpecci and Lorenzo Cocchia were intrigued to find out more about Legio XIII once they heard there was American Football right here in Rome. Giorgio and Lorenzo were both born and raised in Italy, and like most Italians only considered one football the proper sport, and it was the one played with their feet. That all changed when both Giorgio and Lorenzo spent some time in the United States playing soccer at a collegiate level. While they were in the States for soccer, they quickly found out how seriously the USA takes American Football, and they started to understand why. Now back in Rome, they were curious as to how they could find more exposure to American Football and came across none other than Legio XIII Roma.
Wanting to learn more, Giorgio and Lorenzo gave themselves a Sunday full of American Football and went to watch a under-15 match, and get a good look at the facilities of Legio XIII. Being much more used to watching soccer on a Sunday, Lorenzo and Giorgio were pleasantly surprised with how much they enjoyed watching these young Italians play the American game. Not only were the facilities very nice, but the structure and organization of the coaches and the players was what really impressed them.
After watching the match, they went to speak with the club president Giacomo Tancioni to discover a bit of their history. Giacamo told them that there was actually a big rise in interest in American Football in Italy, during the 1980’s and 1990’s but the buzz slowed down and stopped towards the new millennium. However Giacamo never lost the love of the game, so he and a group of friends became players of the sport and went on to play overseas. Once their careers had finished, they found themselves unhappy with the lack of interest and knowledge of American Football in Italy. So in 2009 they created Legio XIII Roma, and it was meant to be inclusive of all ages, for all players.
Of course, success of their top aged team who compete in Men’s FIDAF 3 Divisione is important, but the most important thing to Giacamo is growing the game and making sure all young players get the chance to play. Legio XIII Roma offers teams for ages u12 all the way to the top, which is quite rare for one single club in Italy. More noteworthy than all this, is the social work that Giacamo and Legio XIII Roma do for the community. They constantly hold clinics for children with special needs or sorts of disabilities that would normally not get the chance to play. The club runs flag football tournaments and games for players unable to compete in tackle football, and the entire club prides itself on its inclusive nature. A typical Sunday consists of early morning flag football which is a lot of fun for the casual players, followed by a game of every age group one after another. Each group comes to cheer on the other ages and they really make each matchday an experience, similar to the way fans experience an NFL game, full day affairs.
Legio XIII Roma has been going strong for 12 years now, and it has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, it feels stronger than ever and wants to continue developing. There is a wonderful piece of fiction called “Playing for Pizza” in which the main character moves to Italy and plays American Football and finds how much he likes his life out in Parma. While this is fiction, Legio XIII Roma is writing their own history and while it might carry a few similarities, Legio XIII is making sure their history is their own.