“Shall we go play football?” A simple proposal, which every child can make to the father. Indeed, it is not quite so. There are children who, for a game with their father, must comply with timetables, rules, permits.
I’m the children of prisoners, about 100,000 in Italy (and 2.2 million in Europe). For them, from 1st Junea long-awaited appointment starts: “The game with dad”, which takes place in many Italian prisons, which is part of the annual “Prisons open” campaign and organized by Children without bars in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice – Department of Penitentiary Administration. After two years of hiatus due to the pandemic, the possibility of playing football with fathers is back, an ordinary moment for most children, but exceptional for the children of those behind bars.
Bambinisenzasbarre launched “The game with dad” in 2015. The initiative started with the participation of 12 institutes, 500 children and 250 fathers in prison and it was held every year until 2019when 68 games were played in as many prisons and cities, from Belluno to Palermo, involving prison police officers, educators, 3150 children and 1700 parents in prison.
The main objective of this initiative is to maintain the bond between the child and the imprisoned parent, a right enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. “To achieve this goal, Bambinisenzasbarre”, explain from the association, “prepares children who enter prison for an interview with their parentskey moment to support the parental relationship and to facilitate it, with various means: for example, drawing together, or with a very engaging tool, such as a football match ».
The children of the prisoners often say to their father: “Then when you go out we play football.” The match «represents a possible meeting opportunity, effective for activating, consolidating, increasing the bond between parents-children and sharing a moment of normality and closeness despite the detention “.
“The real punishment of prison is not for us,” explains an inmate father, “but for the people we love. My wife told me that the children packed their bags a week before the game with everything you need to play. This is normal in other people’s daily lives, but we are not used to it. For us it is an emotion ». And it is also true for children. Cristiano, 8 years old, was happy after the game, because “finally dad has seen all the moves as a footballer that I learned from the internet, now he will understand that I have to be a footballer ». Susanna, 11, remembers: “We always went to the stadium with dad, we don’t know how to play football well, but we always had fun with the ball with him.” Michele is only 5 years old, but he already has a certainty: «I like to play with my dad, he is the strongest of all!“.
Source: Vanity Fair