IN GOOD HANDS

THE STORY OF TAM TAM


Tam Tam Basketball ASD

Tam Tam is not only a story of sport: it has become a big family, where the kids and their family members are offered guidance and support

Tam Tam Basket

THE STORY OF TAM TAM BASKET

The story of Tam Tam Basket – which turns sports into a means of inclusion for second-generation girls and boys between 12 and 18 years of age, as well as their families and the African communities who live in the area of Castel Volturno – began in Villaggio Coppola, a district of Castel Volturno born as a holiday destination for the Neapolitans and seized for unauthorized building. After the earthquake of 1980 in Irpinia and the two bradyseisms of Pozzuoli (’78, ’83), Villaggio Coppola became a refuge for displaced people first, and for foreign migrants later. They have occupied the abadoned buildings, most of which are at risk of collapse. The territory has become a breeding ground for organized crime – both foreign and Italian – that heavily affects the lives of the citizens.

Currently, Castel Volturno has the highest amount of non-European inhabitants, most fo whom are of African origin. According to official data (Istat, and the Municipality of Castel Volturno), 5.000 out of about 26.000 residents are not citizens of EU member states. According to research conducted by various NGOs and with respect to the data of waste collection in the Municipality, it is believed that over 20.000 people have settled in the municipal area illegally (illegal immigrants, rejected asylum seekers, people who have not obtained the renewal of their permissions, etc.). Due to multiple reasons, those people find themselves in a context of social marginalization, in conditions of extreme poverty, labor exploitation, organized crime operating in human trafficking and slavery, as also demonstrated by the recent joint investigations of the FBI and the Italian police.
This is where Tam Tam thinks of sport as a means of social inclusion. Their adventure began in September 2016, when a group of kids entered shyly in the gym of a school in Villaggio Coppola. They started training, and in no time they were having fun, they smiled and felt joy. In the first year of activity, two teams competed in the regional UISP championships. The kids got involved in the game, the passion was successfully passed on. One year later, in September 2017, on the wave of enthusiasm, coach Antonelli decided he wanted to enter a team for an under 14 championship of the Italian Federation, and he ran into an absurd rule. The Federation’s regulations provide that no more than 2 foreigners per team can play in the youth championships. The boys of Tam Tam, although all born in Italy, are considered foreigners by the Italian Basketball Federation (FIP) because they are children of African immigrants. Unfortunately, while school includes, sport excludes.

But the enthusiasm of the kids, who where now ready to compete in the official competitions, could not be dampened. So a media tam-tam started, that gave resonance and value to the initiative born in Villaggio Coppola.
This value was finally recognized by the Federation which, after a wearing fight to claim the right to sport, allowed Tam Tam to play by derogation. Shortly after, this first achievement turns into a law, enacted by the Parliament, called the “SAVE TAM TAM BASKET LAW”. The law says that all foreign minors residing in Italy and regularly enrolled at school for at least one year must enjoy the same rights in sport as their Italian peers. Today, over 800.000 foreign minors born in Italy can benefit from this law.

THE STORY OF TAM TAM BASKETBALL
The story of Tam Tam is the demonstration that sport can be not only an extraordinary vehicle for education and psycho-physical well-being, but also becomes a great factor of social inclusion and self-realization: on June 16 2019, after two years of hard work and commitment, the under-15 team wins the regional championship of Campania, out of 76 participating teams. Tam Tam is not only a story of sport: it has gradually become a big family, where the kids and their family members are offered guidance and support, knowing that the kids are in good hands and have access to sport. Often the various coaches and the volunteers take care of the kirs and offer support to the family members too, helping them especially with the handling of paperwork. In particular, during the first lockdown period, the kids and their families were helped with donations and fundraisers, so they could buy groceries.

At the same time, along with other institutions of the third sector, it strived to provide their families access to emergency incomes, although they were in conditions of irregularity. Many of the parents are, or were in conditions of irregularity which, in a context such as that of Castel Volturno, makes them vulnerable to exploitation by organized crime. The parents are mainly employed in various seasonal farming and cleaning activities. In some cases there are also women who have a history of prostitution. Other parents work away from their families, or are involved in illicit activities. Their situations are problematic and varied, but all linked to the non-recognition of rights and citizenship: conditions that, often, turns into a rigid barrier that separates them from the integrations processes.

The kids of the Tam Tam team are the second generations of this vast community and are going through a delicate adolescent phase, characterized by life choices and identity building. During the summer period, some of them carry out small seasonal jobs in bathing establishments or in restaurants, like many Italian kids. Often they feel Italian and live like the Italians, but they are aware that their lack of citizenship and rights will influence their lives and the career, social and sporting opportunities they will get.