The Volpi Rosse Menarini toast to an exciting season in Italy and Europe
The Volpi Rosse Menarini have just completed their second year in Serie A with great satisfaction, having made significant progress in their competitiveness, and are now ready to approach future challenges with renewed enthusiasm and a desire to impress.
The team did not disappoint in their second year: after a first year of settling in, they played a positive championship and made it to play-offs valid for the sixth place in the top national division 2022/23.
This impressive result is not only a point of arrival for the team, but also a starting point for a young and closely knit group in which each player brings an abundance of enthusiasm to the team.
As a matter of fact, the success of the Volpi Rosse is rooted in the positive energy of those involved in the club. President Ivano Nuti‘s main goals were to take on wheelchair basketball and break down cultural and mental “barriers” through collective sport.
Recognizing the social value of the project, Menarini Group has been supporting the team for the past 12 years. The Volpi Rosse have worked tirelessly to structure themselves both competitively and socially, and their hard work is now paying off.
A testament to this progress is the recent call-up of young basketball player Josef Joel Boganelli. Italian national team coach Carlo Di Giusto summoned him for the La Ferrière Vendée tournament in France, where the Azzurri faced off against the host transalpine selection and Israel. This achievement is just one example of the Volpi Rosse’s success and the bright future that lies ahead for the team.
This individual achievement is a direct result of the team’s collective growth and effort. Each member of the club played a crucial role in reaching previously unthinkable scenarios, highlighting the unity and dedication of the Volpi Rosse.
The Volpi Rosse Menarini made their international debut in a tournament of the Iwbf, the European Wheelchair Basketball Federation, that qualified them for the EuroCup 3, a competition for the best teams in Europe. For the first time in their history, the team coached by Marco Bergna played at this level and impressed onlookers with their skills.
The team emerged victorious from their matches in France, defeating their opponents and hosts Elan Chalon, followed by the Belgian Roller Poulls and the Israeli team Maid El Karam. A few days later, the team went on to beat the Roller Poulls in the final.
“This is an incredible result and a great source of satisfaction for the team,” says Ivano Nuti, president of the Volpi Rosse, “We faced our European debut with a sense of humbleness and openness that our young team also displayed on court. This approach allowed us to achieve a historical result, not only for the team, but for the entire Tuscan wheelchair basketball movement.“
The success on the court has brought smiles to both the staff and players, but it is the social impact of the “Beyond the Obstacle” project that fills the entire environment with pride. The project has been bringing wheelchair basketball to schools in Florence and its surrounding areas for over a decade, and it marks an important step forward in promoting social inclusion.
During the first few months of 2023, the Volpi Rosse Menarini extended their reach to new institutions, including Scuole Pie Fiorentine and Barsanti elementary and middle schools, both located in Florence. Through structured and engaging initiatives, the team shared the values of integration and social inclusion, actively involving the students and registering a great deal of sensitivity from teachers and children alike.
The Volpi Rosse Menarini continue to exemplify a virtuous sports community, where the professional attitude of the staff and players is combined with a desire to excel even beyond the court. Perfect examples of this are Giacomo Forcione, law graduate student in Bologna, Samuele Cini, graduate student in Wildlife Science at the faculty of Agriculture, and Riccardo Innocenti, a 23-year-old player who juggles his Serie A sports activity with an equally impressive academic career. Riccardo is currently studying at the University of Pisa, where he is pursuing a master’s degree program in Strategy, Management, and Control within the Faculty of Economics.
“Maintaining a high level in training and studies at the same time is not easy,” commented Innocenti. “I put in maximum effort to balance the multiple commitments I have, so I strive to remain focused both in sports and in my academic career to ensure that nothing is left behind. Within the team’s technical planning, I make myself available for the Volpi Rosse at least five times a week, and I don’t see it as a burden because I consider studying and basketball to be my two true passions. In the near future, I hope to integrate the skills I have acquired academically into sports.“
After the Volpi Rosse Menarini’s incredible performances in Europe, the season came to a close with a sixth-place finish overall, determined by the playoff match against Padova Millennium Basket. The Venetian team secured the fifth-place position by a narrow margin due to a favorable basket difference. Nevertheless, the team’s outstanding achievements throughout the season are a testament to the Volpi Rosse’s success and the bright future that lies ahead for the team.