NEW YORK – At 10:30 New York time, 16:30 back in Italy, the Italian Permanent Mission to the United Nations was tinged black and blue as Massimo Moratti, his daughter and Inter Campus president Carlotta, and world ambassadors of the Nerazzurri project Luis Figo and Francesco Toldo arrived on the 49th floor, 885 Second Avenue.
Playing host to the Inter delegation was Italian Ambassador to the United Nations Cesare Maria Ragaglini, who accompanied the group from the Mission to the Auditorium at UN headquarters, where Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson had just finished his daily press briefing. Now all the attention turned to Inter Campus, which was invited to the United Nations to be upheld as an example of sport becoming an effective tool for development and peace.
Ragaglini took the floor: "It is an honour for me to be able to introduce Inter here at the United Nations. Inter happen to be the team I have always supported, but the honour lies in the fact that today we will be talking about Inter's involvement in the most beautiful side of football: Inter Campus is a project that began 15 years ago and which really does make children living in poverty want to smile again and enjoy the precious right to play."
Real hope that left its mark on Wilfried Lemke, Ban Ki-moon's Special Adviser on Sport for Peace and Development: "I learnt about Inter Campus from the stories ambassador Ragaglini told me and they took me to all the way to Angola. When we arrived my staff were concerned about security but then we found ourselves in a really rough neighbourhood and I met this young, shy, humble girl who, to my great surprise, I then discovered was Carlotta, the daughter of Inter president Massimo Moratti. She was in a dangerous area looking after homeless kids: with her, and thanks to Inter Campus, these children were able to smile and have fun. That's the attitude I would like to see in my own children."
Inter Campus ambassadors Luis Figo and Francesco Toldo spoke to journalists from all over the world about their involvement in the project: "My playing career lasted nearly 20 years and I only spent four of them at Inter," Figo said. "But it was at Inter where I made the best friendships and where I felt most appreciated, and more importantly it's where I discovered Inter Campus. Now it's an honour for me to represent it. I had the chance to follow my dream in life, now I'd like all the children in the world to be able to follow their dreams, whatever they might be. Thanks to this great family that is Inter, which I'm proud to be a part of, that's possible."
Figo's sentiment was echoed by Francesco Toldo, and you could sense the pride he felt as he spoke: "Ten thousand children, 25 countries, one great hope to play and to feel alive. That's Inter Campus. It's not only a pleasure, it's an honour to be a part of it. I'm delighted to be here representing Inter and Italy, on such a fabulous project as Inter Campus. The joy those 10,000 children give us when we go to visit them is greater than winning the Champions League. It's not just about charity though: we help children who have nothing but problems to have hope in life by playing. We work with local partners and use football to reintegrate these children into society, into life. We teach them respect and rules, and not only how to play the game. Our aim is to help them grow, and obviously not only in the footballing sense: we educate boys and girls through football, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity. We had Palestinian and Israeli boys and girls playing together. That's what Inter Campus is about."
This is Inter Campus @ UN. At 18:00 New York time (midnight in Italy), Massimo Moratti will deliver his speech at UN headquarters.