"I thought that to be part of the team would have been a way to fully embrace the philosophy and the message of solidarity carried out by the Community. At the bottom of the purpose of sports should be to have fun, and do not understand why males and females can not do that by playing together."
President of CSI of Belluno Dario Dal Magro personally made the trip to watch Avanzo's debut in front of a small crowd of 30 at Cesiomaggiore. Avanzo started the game as striker with the highly important number 9 shirt on and helped her team to a 2-1 away victory, only coming off as a substitute minutes before the end.
Many were surprised of her decision to leave Dynamo Vellai after 13 years being one of their main goalscorers, but not Blue Star coach-Aldo Bertelle:
"This beginning of Francesca with our team to a history of the integration of people with disabilities, children with mental retardation, people from different cultures. All because the differences are a core value for us, but also for the society in which we live. Five years ago I never thought that a girl would play with us, but now we are happy that this happened. However, today was written an important page in our community. "
Francesca's story is currently small news in the football world, almost going unnoticed. The English FA recently changed it's ruling on mixed sex football (previously under-12's only), to under-14's level. For a governing body that constantly reminds us of new initiatives to get women and girls involved in football, to stamp out discrimination and to promote equality, it still seems so blinded. As with most other sports, women are deemed "weaker/slower" than our male counterparts, resulting in any mixed sport being regarded as "unfair".
We need more stories like Francesca's to be heard, rules need to be changed and people's perspectives need to change. That's the only way sports can progress and become truly "equal".