Scenes and stories from a small town in the hills of Italy's Le Marche region

Look out Soccer, Here Comes Volleyball
Camerano warms up to volleyball


CAMERANO, Italy -- In a land where soccer is king, volleyball is the sport most played in the Marche region. So says the president of the town’s youth association for volleyball, Claudio Principi, who has been involved with volleyball for the past 25 years. He played competitively until he was 19 and participated in the under-15 national championship game. Even now, age 44, he often plays recreationally on the beach and attends a European tournament.

“Volleyball flows in my blood,” says Principi.


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He is also involved nationally as a sports director. Principi has the daunting task of organizing teams, equipment, transportation, international tournaments, players’ contracts, coaching staff, sponsorships, practice facility times and international tournaments. Principi spends more time with volleyball than with the Ancona stadium, where he is employed to organize concerts and sporting events.

“I have had many jobs, but when I could dedicate all my life to sport, it was the most beautiful,” says Principi.

Camerano holds two international tournaments, both organized by Principi. The first one is held during the Easter weekend, and the other, Volley Europe, was held this year from June 26 to June 30.

Camerano's volleyball team practices jumping and tipping over the net -- fun drills for the players.

Photo by Danielle Abbott

Claudio Principi, president of the Youth Association for Volleyball, discusses the importance of volleyball, in the soccer-dominated town of Camerano.

The sun begins to set as the volleyball players of Camerano stretch and warm up, ready to start a long night of practice.

Photos by Danielle Abbott

More than 500 athletes from various European nations participated in the opening and closing ceremonies. Following the tournament, all in attendance gathered to watch Italy beat Ukraine in the World Cup quarterfinals.

In Italy, volleyball is separated into the categories of youth, third league, second league, and first league, which is considered the professional level. Camerano has only youth volleyball. The 16 players range from 8 to 14 years old and are divided into club teams of under 14, under 13, under 12, and youth, also called the “minis."

Two girls from Camerano who played in the first, or professional, league in 1995, had previously played for Principi. Although the first league plays at a professional level, girls tend to look at male athletes as role models in sports, Principi says. However, while some girls may find inspiration from professional players, Viola Bravi, 11, says she and others play mostly for the camaraderie.

One of the coaches supervised by Principi is Giancarlo D’Angelo, who has been coaching Camerano’s club teams for four years. Matches are played at home and in surrounding cities, with multiple teams coming from Ancona. The season lasts from August to May and the rest of the summer is spent perfecting important techniques.

Although D’Angelo has never played volleyball, he has been involved with the sport since 1998. He first coached in his hometown of Appignano del Tronto, then Falconara, before ending up in Camerano. Currently, he is working with the Falconara’s first league, or professional teams, to become an assistant coach.

“You are never certain you will lose. There is always a chance you will win,” D’Angelo says, his philosophy is to confront the competition. “Be Your Best,” reads the back of the team’s T-shirt uniforms, in English.

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