Since 2015, the nonprofit organization BambiniSenzasBarre has been organizing soccer matches in several Italian prisons, once a year.
BambiniSenzasBarre, which translates to children without bars, has been organizing matches nicknamed La Partita con Papà, meaning The Game with Dad.
Activities Undertaken Under Bambinisenzasbarre Program
During these events, children of incarcerated parents are given a chance to compete on a soccer match with their fathers in the field. Many prisoners usually enjoy this event as it helps them ease their stress of missing their children.
For instance, during the recent event Maurizio, 39, had a chance to play a match with his two sons (13 and 7). He has been in jail since 2014, for homicide. Maurizio shared how he eagerly waited for this year’s event so that he could hang out with his wife and kids.
Maurizio’s progress and participation in BambiniSenzasBarre’s several other programs at Opera enabled him to be selected to play in the soccer match.
During these matches, fathers and their children mix up to form two teams. Although these matches don’t obey most of the soccer rules, they are usually entertaining.
Afterwards, the families are usually given the opportunity to sit and talk with their families. During this year’s event, Maurizio had a chance to interact with and kiss his sons and wife.
America Can Learn Something from Italy’s Prisons
Similar scenes happened, this month, at more than 50 correctional facilities in Italy. In fact, Lia Sacerdote, the president and founder of BambiniSenzasBarre, hopes to see similar scenes in all prisons in Italy (193).
Sacerdote has also proposed that all European members of Children of Prisoners Europe (COPE) network adopt this program, too.
Another event of this nature was experienced at Secondigliano prison, Naples. Officials at the facilities praised the program saying it gave prisoners an opportunity to live normal lives.
The prison system in Italy has recently done several significant changes to address issues like:
- Poor treatment of prisoners
It is a result of this transformation that BambiniSenzasBarre was welcomed to give its suggestions. So the organization asked the facilities to develop educational programs and workshop spaces to facilitate parent-child relationships in prisons.
American prisoners could really benefit from programs like these.
How Is BambiniSenzasBarre Beneficial for Prison Kids?
Studies have found that absence of father-kid connections has several negative consequences to the children. Kids who miss out on these critical bonds are more likely to:
- Be imprisoned
- Drop out of schools
- Engage in anti-social behaviors
BambiniSenzasBarre officials also try to create an environment in which fathers interact with their children without mothers around—through rare visits. They aim to promote father-children communication. So the organization employs activities that ease tension, like art and soccer.
During this year’s event, Russo, a prisoner in Milan, enjoyed every moment of it with his son. He could be seen jokingly giving an imaginary red card to his son, as they played soccer together.
Children Give Back to Imprisoned Fathers
[amazon_link asins=’1623156904′ template=’ProductAd’ store=’prisonrideshare.org-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f8a9d056-e5b1-11e7-b86f-7f14c5252d59′] Russo who is likely to remain behind bars until 2016, noted that children give imprisoned fathers, like him, the strength and hope to push forward. He was imprisoned for participating in an international drug trafficking ring.
The inmate says that seeing his child has made him want to become a good man.
And when the time comes for his loved ones to leave came, the dads walked towards the metal gates, blowing kisses and waving to their children.
The kids and their moms, on the other side, marched down the dim hallway, as the metal doors closed right behind them.