Greta De Gennaro tells us about her efforts to form the first Italian national veterans team for the European Rugby Festival later this year – and challenges the rest of Europe to send teams to take them on.
In recent years the number of veteran Italian players has grown exponentially. In addition to all the female rugby players passing the mandatory age for the senior category (42 years of age), there has also been a big increase of women over 35 who have fallen in love with Rugby later in life.
Until September last year all players who wished to continue to play Rugby had the veteran category as their only outlet, but as so often happens in life small events can change things, opening new worlds and opportunities. And so it is that the Veterans team has come to life!
It all began in September 2018 when Erika Morri, a national councillor for the FIR, called me to tell me that in September 2019 the European Rugby Festival will be held in Belluno organized by the Old Fossils men’s rugby team. I was asked if we wanted to organize the women's side of the tournament, putting together a team of 15 former players and new recruits with a strong desire to represent Italy at the European festival.
I am a dreamer and I love a challenge, so our adventure began. Erika worked with the organizers to insert a female European tournament within the program whilst I immediately got the word out amongst the various women's teams with whom I play with or against during the year in the various old Italian tournaments organized by the various clubs.
The response has been nothing short of exciting. I have realized how many women, former players and even non-players who still feel the need of the thrill of competition.
Hence the idea to start a project to open a new horizon for over 35s, Erika Morri and myself called this project VETERANS. It represents a chance to play "competitive rugby" for the over 35s.
Veterans still love and defend the spirit and fun side of rugby on and off the field but want to retain that value of preparation and the competitive side of the game. Currently there are 37 women from all over Italy who are attending rallies, training together under the wise guidance of Roberta "Obe" Giraudo and Daniele "Batta" Battagin, two wonderful coaches who have freely volunteered to train the players and help them reach a certain standard of play in view of the Europeans.
All this work cannot be complete without some worthy opponents, so we are looking for European female Veteran teams who would like to come to Italy to play against the Italian Ladies Veterans at the European Festival of Rugby Belluno.
The program is very rich and is divided up into 4 days, it also includes sightseeing and gala. Belluno is in a beautiful area of Italy, amongst the most beautiful mountains in the world. Also a plus is that in September the weather is wonderful.
If interested you must register as soon as possible by contacting me via facebook, email or station wapp.
The men's teams are already buying up cheaper facilities, so I am hoping that you are able to make a quick decision so that I can help you book hotels and arrange transport to and from the airports. We are waiting for you!
FB: Greta De Gennaro (LaMezza)