The disabled can be Ultras too18 October 2005

I am disabled, someone, like many others in this 'category', whose journey through life has been fairly onerous at times. By that I'm not saying that life is easy now. I'm just trying to overcome as best I can all the 'injustices' that turn your life – which is difficult enough in itself – upside down, even if you're a so-called 'normal person'.

There's so much I could say on this subject, but I'd like to recount an experience which to a certain extent has lent a new quality to my existence. About two years ago I was accepted as a member by the ALLENTATI (Associazione Fasano Supporters), a group of ULTRAS who support the local football team. I've found some TRUE FRIENDS there, something which regrettably is very rare these days. I've shared some great moments with them, moments which at first glance are normal and irrelevant – but it is the small gestures, in particular, that you cannot put a value on.

When we go to the match, for example, there's always someone there to help me when I go in, when I sit down at our end of the ground, when we sing, perhaps against the 'REPRESSION OF THE ULTRAS', and we cheer our team on. One thing's for certain: I don't just sit there all on my own, like so many other around the edge of the pitch. The Ultras always try and involve me, and so I don't feel at all discriminated against because of my physical situation.

With these words I wish to challenge a few preconceptions. They are addressed to the people, including those in the media, whose malicious attacks on the Ultras bear no resemblance to reality, those who believe that ULTRAS are simply violent people whose sole aim is to cause trouble inside the ground. I'm sure they form their opinions based on what others tell them, instead of trying to see below the surface.

My remarks are also aimed at all the ULTRAS and fans of the various teams who have disabled people among their members – they need to be in your end, they need to be involved more and they need to be able to join in, just like everyone else. Believe me, being in the middle of the Ultras for 90 minutes is an indescribable feeling. It's as if all barriers have been swept away, you feel completely free. I'm not trying to attract any sympathy with what I'm saying or somehow become well-known. My sole aim is to raise my voice on behalf of disabled people who maybe don't have the courage to say that they want to be with the others, shout with the others and sing with the others!

It's down to all you genuine ULTRAS to take the first step towards them. Let them become an important part of your group! Disabled people can always be GENUINE ULTRAS; they will ALWAYS do their bit!

Ciccio kaimano