Look out Soccer, Here
Camerano warms up to volleyball
By KELLY ERICKSON
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.
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
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
Photos by Danielle Abbott
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
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
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,