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09 July 2013 | in Multisports, Field Hockey, Summer FISU World University Games

The National Dilemma



KAZAN - My entire life has been a conflict between two vastly different cultures. Born to Italian parents in the country of South Africa, I face an identity crisis on a daily basis.

I am highly patriotic and devoted to both, therefore when it comes to sport, the dilemma I face increases a hundred fold.

I was born in South Africa, raised in South Africa, did my schooling in South Africa, and have a South African identity book and passport. I am a South African citizen and I vote in the South African elections. Yet, at birth, my parents registered me in Italy. I therefore also own an Italian passport, speak Italian and vote in the Italian elections as well. So which documents describe me best? And in the sporting arena, where do my allegiances lie?

Day 1 of my time as a FISU Young Reporter at the 27th Summer Universiade 2013 in Kazan, and what do you know: a men’s hockey match-up between Italy and South Africa!

In the build-up before the game, I sat with the South African team on the stands, chatting with the team captain and team manager.

Both teams then warmed up, each in one half of the field, so I then strolled across to the Italian camp, and had a nice long conversation with Italy’s chiropractor. The whole time, however, I was conscious of the fact that I had just wished the South African “boys” the best of luck, while re-iterating the same sentiments to the Italian squad as I left the warm-up area. So which was more heartfelt?

As a journalist, you have to be objective, and this really came to the fore in this match, as I was equally torn between supporting each team.

The game ebbed and flowed as I cheered in each goal. However, I ended up sitting with a group of South African fans during the second half of the game, which subdued my shouts for Italy somewhat.

Luckily for me, the match ended in a four-all draw, a pleasing result which satisfied my equal backing for either side.

To see both my countries battle it out on the field at the Universiade, but then shake hands and share a joke off it, shows the unity and good spirits in which the Games are played. Therefore, at the end of the day, it is sport itself that is the winner.


Fabio De Dominicis/FISU Young Reporter (RSA/ITA)