Tag Archive: Castel Rigone


The Remarkable Run of Castel Rigone

This past Sunday, Castel Rigone (population 406), playing in the Lega Pro Seconda Divisione, defeated Messina (population 242,684), 2-0. Seven years ago, Messina was playing in the top level of Italian soccer (Serie A). Seven years ago, Castel Rigone finished twelfth in the ‘Eccellenza Umbra‘ regional league and barely missed demotion into the seventh level of Italian soccer.

I first learned about Castel Rigone Calcio when I went to a Wednesday practice for one of our boys at Don Bosco. One of their youth squads practices once a week on the artificial turf at Don Bosco, because several players on the team come from Perugia, and it saves those families some driving (there’s no public transport available between Perugia and Castel Rigone). The Don Bosco youth program also works as a feeder system for Castel Rigone.

That’s because the club itself is headquartered in the small hill-town of Castel Rigone, about 650 m. above sea level and 27 km. of wriggly road north of Perugia, just east of Lake Trasimeno. Castel Rigone Calcio is the smallest community in Italy to have a soccer team in the fully-professional ranks of the national system. And the club is only 15 years old, started as a way for a group of friends to have a kick-around. And their code of ethical behavior is more important to them than winning games. In the brutally competitive world of modern soccer, how the heck did this happen?

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Castel Rigone, Week 5: Boxscores and Referees

Box score for the match in Il Giornale dell'Umbria

Box score for the Week 5 match in Il Giornale dell’Umbria

This past weekend, the biancoblu of Castel Rigone dropped a close game 1-0 at Poggibonsi. It was their third loss in three away games, and they sit in the danger zone near the bottom of the table, though the season is yet young, with 29 games yet to contest. The team played strongly (especially in the second half), and probably deserved a draw, but an unmarked run into the area by Poggibonsi was capped with a volley into goal at 22′, and that’s all that was needed.

Here are the video highlights of the week 5 match:

(Note that the Firefox browser often does not display YouTube videos properly; you may need to use a different browser.)

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Castel Rigone, Week 6: Water and Fog

Calcio in Castel Rigone

Calcio in Castel Rigone

On Saturday it was pouring down buckets of rain in Perugia. Parking lots, roads, and underpasses in the lower city were flooding. A tournament for piccoli amici (the level Micah plays at) at Don Bosco was cancelled, so suddenly my afternoon was open. I decided to try to get to Castel Rigone to see their home game vs. Nuova Cosenza.

Unfortunately, it was 1:30, I had no car (the rental office had closed), there’s no public transport, the town was nestled in mountains 30 min. away, the game was to start at 3:00, and it was still pouring.

So I called our friend Marzia, because she knows everyone. She’s an absolute magician. Several calls and texts later — negotiating time, cost, and location — I bought an umbrella from the street vendors who materialize in Perugia when it rains, and waited outside. A white Citroen pulled up at 2:40, the window rolled down, and Roberto, a coffee-machine technician, and his wife Alise invited me in. Off we went, and after about 15 minutes, I realized we were going in the wrong direction.

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Castel Rigone, Weeks 7-8: The Mountain and the Valley

Castel Rigone: white dots on a mountain ridge across Lake Trasimeno

Last Saturday, Oct. 12th, Castel Rigone suffered another tough loss, away vs. Casertana. As one match report put it: “Casertana won 1-0 at the end [goal at 72′] of a knockout more than ever undeserved. One goal was disallowed for a highly dubious offside by Tranchitella [of Castel Rigone] in the second half, and another four other scoring chances were wasted by the Rigonians. The white-and-blues were punished for their only blunder.” (“La Casertana vince 1-0 al termine di un ko quanto mai immeritato. Un gol annulato per un fuorigioco molto dubbio a Tranchitella nella ripresa e altre quattro palle gol sprecate dai rigonesi. Biancoblù puniti nell’unico svarione.”)

Hoping to stave off late-game stumbles, the management began to shore up the team, acquiring 24-year-old defender Gianluigi Bianco from Avellino in Serie B (two levels up). Now second from bottom, they faced a long climb up the table, which they began this past weekend on Oct. 19 at home vs. Tuttocuoio (the name means “all leather”), a team from the town of San Miniato halfway between Florence and Pisa in Tuscany.

Any commentator who covers soccer eventually curses themselves to repeat this banality: “you have to score more goals than the opposition.” Sometimes this is even pitched as a ‘philosophy’ for a ‘simple game’, either in all desperate seriousness, or as a jaded joke about how hard that simple game actually is. Jean Paul Sartre said [I am still digging for the original source]: “Au football, tout est compliqué par la présence de l’équipe adverse.” “In football, everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team.” The truth is, despite playing hard and well enough to earn results, Castel Rigone have had difficulty scoring goals. And fashioning a goal in soccer is the single most difficult “scoring act” in any sport. Here are recent average numbers of points scored in major team sports:

What are some philosophical and ethical implications of these data?

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The Merry-Go-Round

A new phase has begun at Castel Rigone. Marco Di Loreto departed as manager on Sunday evening. On Tuesday morning, the Giornale dell’Umbria published this comment by Daniele Sborzacchi, chief of the paper’s sports section:

L’eleganza della simplicità. Marco Di Loreto è uscito di scena con grande signorilità. Da calciatore è riuscito a farsi amare dai tifosi perugini pur provenendo dal feudo rossoverde di Marmore; nella sua ottima carriera in campo si è ritagliato uno spazio importante partendo dalle categorie inferiore e scalandole con impegno e dedicazione. E da tecnico alla prima esperienza su una panchina professionistica, conscio della “particolarità” dell’ambiente rigonese, ha gestito con intelligenza e calma una situazione che, senza ombra di dubbio, avrebbe fatto saltare i nervi a molti altri allenatori. Il suo presidente lo ha criticato aspramente dopo una vittoria importantissima, di quelle in grado di consolidare lo spirito di gruppo perché ottenute in rimonta e contro un avversario ostico. Lui, in tutta riposta, non ha assolutamente esasperato i toni chiedendo semplicemente un confronto con il suo datore di lavoro ma ottenendo in cambio un incredibile benservito in quanto, secondo patron Cucinelli, non avrebbe rispettato le “regole”. Nonostante questo (e non è poco…), ha tolto il disturbo con grande stile: “Ho capito che posso fare l’allenatore e di questo ringrazio la società. Ho solo fatto quello che si doveva per il bene della squadra. Mandando in campo i giocatori nella migliore condizione fisica e mentale.” Stop. Niente clamore. Niente rabbia. Nessuna parola pomposa o altezzosa. L’eleganza vera è nella semplicità.

“The elegance of simplicity. Marco Di Loreto has left the scene with great distinction. As a player he succeeded in being loved by Perugian fans despite coming from red-and-green rivals Ternana Calcio. In his excellent career on the field, he carved out an important place, starting from the lower categories and moving up with commitment and dedication. And as a manager in his first experience on a professional bench, conscious of the “specialness” of the Castel Rigone environment, he handled with intelligence and calm a situation which, without a shadow of a doubt, would have shattered the nerves of many other coaches. The club’s president criticized him harshly after a very important victory, of the sort that could consolidate team spirit because it was obtained in a comeback against a tough opponent. Di Loreto, in all of his response, showed absolutely no tones of exasperation, simply asking for an exchange with his employer, but instead receiving an incredible sacking because, according to team patron Cucinelli, he did not follow the “rules.” Despite this (and it’s not a small thing …), he defused the problem with great style: “I realized that I can be a manager, and for this I thank the club. I only did what was necessary for the good of the team. Sending onto the field players in the best physical and mental condition.” Stop. No fanfare. No anger. No pompous or arrogant words. True elegance lies in simplicity.”

There are some biting choices of phrase in this opinion piece…

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Castel Rigone, Week 9: Home and Heart

Links to the Castel Rigone fans Facebook page

With their new coach Luca Fusi, and their new signing, terzino (“fullback”) Gianluigi Bianco, now fit enough to start, Castel Rigone looked to get their first away win of the season at Arzanese, in Campania. It was a lively match in which the referee played a significant role, awarding a free kick to Castel Rigone from which Bianco scored his first goal, two penalties to Arzanese (both converted), and sending off Castel Rigone striker Agostinelli for a kick to the ankle in the 20th minute of the second half. (Agostinelli will miss the next two matches in penance.) Two wonderful open-play goals (see highlights below) by Tranchitella (the league leader) and Bontà (after his team went down to 10 men) were enough to earn a 3-2 victory.

Official Lega Pro video highlights of the week 9 victory v. Arzanese:

Alas, Arzanese didn’t even get to play their home game in their own Vallefuoco stadium, because of a dispute over their grounds. Workers  of Munianum Spa, who staff and maintain the stadium, have not been paid for two months by the Arzanese club, and so until the dispute is resolved, the city of Mugnano has closed the facility.

What does it mean for a community to have a team, and for that team to succeed or slide? Continue reading

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