The Ionian and Adriatic Youth Games were held in Ancona from 27 to 29 September. They are now called the Animus Youth Games, thanks partly to the Animus (Adriatic Ionian Games for Social Inclusion) project co-funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission. The initiative, being held for the third time and strongly supported by the Councillor for Sport of Ancona, Andrea Guidotti, saw the arrival in the city of around one thousand young athletes between 15 and 16 years of age from sixteen countries in the Danube and Baltic area, taking part in nine sports: athletics, beach volley, football, 3×3 basketball, handball, water polo, rugby, taekwondo and tennis. “The Youth Games - says Andrea Guidotti - revealed an extremely high level of preparation, proof of the importance of sports in other countries. However, regardless of the results, which saw Serbia take the highest number of medals, the real winner this time was sport itself, as a means for growth and spreading important values and principles among young Europeans”. An aspect of fundamental importance for the success of the event was the work of the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR), through the Regional Education Office for the Marche region, which involved various schools, with over 400 students taking part in various activities, such as the welcome, communications, interpreting, a tourist guide of the city and musical entertainment on stage.
Adria Ferries Main Sponsor 2019
Adria Ferries, a leading company in maritime transport between Italy and Albania, is highly aware of the importance of this initiative in cooperation between countries and encouraging inclusive sport and social cohesion and therefore decided to sponsor it once again. To mark the event, the company offered a group of around 200 youngsters a free trip on the Adria Ferries vessels and meals on board, but also all the necessary support of the Media and Communications Division in showcasing this event both in Italy and internationally, involving the press and the main media channels at its disposal.
“Sport is a great teacher in the school of life and the Youth Games offer the perfect chance to encourage inclusion, proximity and solidarity. This fantastic event is the occasion to bring different cultures, attitudes and nationalities together, but also to unite them in a healthy spirit of sport and competition – explains Alberto Rossi, who has supported the initiative since its inception - and the ideal opportunity to overcome differences and bring peoples and nations closer to each other. The decision of Adria Ferries to sponsor the event once again is based on its policy of making firm commitments to programs and investments. We have been sponsoring this initiative from the very beginning, because it aroused our enthusiasm and we loved both the mood and how it is organised. We have supported it from the start and will continue to do so in the future”.
THE FRIENDSHIP PACT WITH SERBIA
An important part of the Games was signing of the Friendship Pact on Saturday, 28 September, between the Ancona Municipal Authority and the Serbian city of Sabac. The two cities have been cooperating in the sports and youth policies sectors since the very first “Adriatic and Ionian Youth games” project that took place in Ancona in 2014. With the Pact, the two cities plan to create bonds of friendship between their communities and promote exchanges in experiences, tourist initiatives, sporting and cultural events.
“This is a concrete demonstration – said Mayor Mancinelli – of how the positive and dynamic effect of the Youth Games goes beyond sport. This cooperation agreement relates not only to sports, but to all the positive things that the two cities can do together. Sport is the first vehicle, after which it is possible to go further”. “For us – said Nemanja Pajic, President of the Council of Sabac and the city’s parliamentary representative – this Friendship Pact is extremely important. Sport is a good ambassador and will also allow us to discuss economic aspects. We are aware that signing this agreement will lead to numerous possibilities and open up new horizons. We may even be able to obtain the European funds for twinned cities. The city of Ancona, as our friend, can help us along this path, as it is already in the European Union and has plenty of experience”.
THE SUCCESS OF THE EVENT
After thanking the European and local institutions, the sports federations, schools, associations, municipal staff and civil protection department, the sponsors and the supporters, the mayor, Valeria Mancinelli, expressed her satisfaction with “an organisation that has functioned to the best of its possibilities, allowing hundreds of youngsters of different nationalities to interact in the name of sport, have fun and get to know each other, all in total safety, laying the foundations for a joint and shared project, reflecting the spirit of the macro-regional institutions”. The objective of the Games has always been to improve the sense of cooperation, belonging and awareness within a European macro-region, breaking down social and cultural barriers and highlighting the common value of sport.
Mayor Mancinelli cited four basic reasons for the success of the project: effective cooperation between the different institutional and non-institutional entities involved; the international dimension of the city of Ancona in relations with Europe and the world; the ability to obtain and use European funding, thanks to a network that works, and, last but not least, the overwhelming enthusiasm of the youngsters.
The event brought a breath of fresh air and multiculturalism to Ancona, which, for several days, became the stage for events, fireworks displays, meetings, national anthems and multilingual messages, with the unexpected bonus of participation of the entire city and its inhabitants.