MONZA – Colours, sounds, cones, hoops, ladders, balls of all kinds, joyful screams, children running about and playing. Have you guessed where we are? No, we’re not on a football field! Instead, we’re in the small gym of a children’s hospital at the Maria Letizia Verga Centre.
This place is the heart of the Sport Therapy research project which involves more than 80 children every year and that aims to show how sport brings physical, psychological and emotional benefits even to children with leukaemia.
Today’s training involves nine players including two eight-year-old girls in wheelchairs, a teenager on crutches, two 17-year-olds and four boys and girls aged between ten and 14, all of whom are affected by the disease and are united by the fact they play football together. They all do the best they can with the utmost effort despite their difficulties: there are those who can only play sitting down, those who have to stop every 30 seconds, those who can’t run and those who have to be isolated in a small room. For those moments, they forget that they are ill and they imagine they are playing on a football pitch. Off they go again, for another hour of training and playing different games which are good for the body, mind and heart and where there is both maximum effort and maximum reward.
When they leave the gym all together, their enthusiasm remains very high, demonstrating that sport is a very powerful medicine that not only makes you feel better physically, but also gives you endless smiles and great relationships, making you forget the illness for a moment.