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Youth sports advocate Anthony Isabelli

Sportivo Management Group founder Anthony H. Isabelli has parlayed a deep appreciation for his Italian heritage into a new role that he hopes will allow more Italian Americans to examine their own roots.

In December, he was appointed to the position of United States Foreign Committee president for the Association of Sport, Culture and Leisure (ASCI), an Italian organization headquartered in Rome.

This new post will allow Isabelli to further his mission of encouraging cultural exchanges between America and Italy by creating opportunities for young athletes from both countries to compete against each other.

In an official statement, Isabelli expressed his commitment to work with the ASCI as “a real source of inspiration to teach positive values and enrich lives through sport.”

Isabelli was appointed by ACSI President Antonino Vitii and National Soccer Director GianCarlo DiMichele. They expressed their confidence in Isabelli, saying he “will be a great asset as he will take the lead in promoting sport and cultural programs linking the United States and Italy.”

Isabelli — who was born in Ferentino, Italy, and grew up in Rockford, Ill. — says living in both countries allowed him the chance to embrace his heritage, a chance that he wants to pass on to others. “I can relate to Italian-American youth who want to connect with their Italian side, to go over there and see what it’s all about,” he says.

Isabelli is proud to be part of an organization that is committed to bridging the two cultures, noting that that this isn’t the first time he has been involved in efforts that employ sports to accomplish that goal.

Since 2008, Isabelli’s Sportivo Management Group has curated sports travel tours for Italian American youths interested in playing competitive sports in Italy. A passion project that initially began for Isabelli at Casa Italia in Stone Park, his efforts drew the attention of the Italian Olympic Committee, which visited Chicago during the city’s Olympic bid in 2012. Isabelli has served as a trustee on the Italian National Olympic Committee and helped develop youth delegations in the U.S. that traveled to Italy to play in the Italian Youth Olympic Games.

He says the friends he made, friends he still has today, are proof of the lasting effectiveness and power of examining one’s Italian roots.

Isabelli views his involvement in the ASCI as a way of doing even more to promote these cross-cultural programs. “My vision would be to grow and develop a board in the U.S. that includes sports and Italian culture enthusiasts. We would build a network of coaches, Italian language teachers, and corporate sponsors to grow the program and provide scholarships for students.”

Isabelli is also looking to create opportunities for adults to travel to Italy and assist with the program while rediscovering their heritage.

His first proposed exchange is scheduled for June. Kids 13 years and older will be able to compete with young Italian athletes of similar ages in soccer, track and field, tennis, and volleyball.

American families will be invited to host Italian team members at U.S.-based events and American team members will enjoy similar accommodation in Italy.

Isabelli is also looking to involve adults who want to attend the events in Italy; serve as volunteer coaches, event coordinators and media assistants; or raise funds to sponsor young athletes.

More information is available at sportivochicago.com.

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Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.