After landing in the Romanian capital, the new coaches Paola Balconi and Andrea Galbiati took two training sessions. Around 30 children from the Istituti minorili Pinocchio and Marcellino; Catalin and Marian who are local coaches/educators together with our partner organisation Parada’s President Franco Aloisio were there to welcome us to the newly covered pitch despite the cold.

By car, we arrive in Slatina where there have been years of operating with Don Gino Rigoldi’s Comunità Nuova thanks to years of patronage from Pirelli Romania. The Director for activity here Alberto Ariolio is waiting for us along with our coaches Mircea, Florin and Jardel and around 60 with around 21 new children of Roma ethnicity participating for the first time. Jardel did a lot to involve the new group as he went around the Roma areas to ask families to allow their children to take part in sporting activity. Discrimination and marginilisation are frequent problems for Roma women who tend to marry young and take care of large numbers of children and they are often limited to relying on charity or very basic jobs. With the new group of girls and another 60 kids, we had two intense days of training on the wonderful 11-a-side grass pitch.

From Slatina, we moved on to Valcea Ramnicu where we’ve been active with the Inima pentru inuma (heart to heart) organisation for many years. We were welcomed by the President Lidia Dobre who is a historic partner in who has been involved for years in caring for abandoned children. With her and the two local coaches Alin and Andrey waiting for us, we’re welcomed by around 80 children from centres around the city. Among this, a group of 14 (seven boys and seven girls) from the east of Romania have joined from the region of Tulcea and the Danube delta. Delighted to make the trip, they were greeted enthusiastically by the curious kids from the Vladesti and Ocnele Mari centres.

In Valcea, the Romanian coaches brought together all of the centres from across the country for the first time and they were able to attend courses from our catches. There were lessons in the classroom in the morning before practical work on the pitch with the children in the afternoon.

The visit ended with a fund tournament for all three categories. The Mayor Cosac Adi was there and we thanked him for as sport as we did for the President of local club Stejarul Vladesti who allowed us to use their magnificent pitch in this celebratory day with the aim of furthering social inclusion.