«There is racism in Italy. Egonu wanted to leave everything to come to me when my mother died »- Corriere.it

«There is racism in Italy. Egonu wanted to leave everything to come to me when my mother died »- Corriere.it
«There is racism in Italy. Egonu wanted to leave everything to come to me when my mother died »- Corriere.it

There is a moment when Miriam gives in to emotion. The question is harmless («How ​​much is Paola Egonu’s friend?»), But it unleashes an inner storm and the answer proceeds between sobs and tears: «When in 2018 my mother passed away she told me she would give up everything and would come with me. It’s not for everyone: and you still played in Novara… ». It is not for everyone to even open their heart, however it takes little to grasp that Miriam, Fatima, Sylla (nothing “miraculous”: Fatima was the paternal grandmother) is a formidable girl. As well as the new captain, with African roots, of the Italian volleyball team. His is a film life, the story of integration and emancipation. In addition to pain, tenacity and redemption.

Captain, our captain: did you step into the role?

«Now yes, before it seemed to me that I was a thief and that I had stolen the part from Cristina Chirichella: I spoke to her. Going to the retreat I was then touched by the anxiety of not being up to it: it seems that nothing changes, instead it changes a lot. But just don’t think about it… ».

His family is now in Luxembourg.

“I haven’t seen my dad, who works on trains, my brother and my sister for two years. I miss my family and at 25 I lost a hinge: my mother is… my mother. And she died in my arms ».

What do you feel you have of the Ivory Coast?

«The roots: the bond will be eternal. I never got to know her, I’ll fix it. “

Is Miriam Sylla more Italian or more Sicilian?

“But if I’m Sicilian, am I not Italian?”

Indeed it is. It was to emphasize that Sicily played a central role.

«In Palermo there is my beginning and it is the place of the adoptive grandparents. He is sunny, warm, cheerful: he looks like me ».

“Special” grandparents called them.

«They are angels. My father was lucky to meet them. If my grandmother hadn’t given him a ride, what would I have been? ‘

«Dad had arrived in Bergamo. He slept at Caritas. But it was cold and my uncle was suffering: so they moved to the South. One evening that lady, driving home, saw my father and helped him. He began to work for the family, then my mother joined him: when I was born, these two people became fond of. At the nursery they showed my grandmother all the white babies. And she: “No, that’s the one there”. The nurse rolled her eyes… ».

Paola Egonu superstar. But doesn’t Miriam Sylla deserve equal attention?

«Paola is a shining star: a witch with eyes, of unparalleled expressiveness. It was born for volleyball. Me too, but a little less. But I don’t feel on the sidelines ».

Carlton Myers, standard bearer in Sydney 2000, a black boy, said: Italy is racist. Has the situation improved after 21 years?

«I would not like to cause controversy, I have been told several times to only be an athlete: however, a sportsman also has a thinking head. It is not possible to generalize, but not even to argue that Italy is not racist: I would be stupid to believe it ».

Forgive me if you hear the expression “nigger” used?

«Whether someone says it to insult or just to talk, I correct him. And I explain that my comrades made fun of me, emptied my backpack into the bus and didn’t let me sit next to them. I wouldn’t let him get away with it: I don’t hate, but I avoid forgiving ».

Is it true that at school he pulled the desks?

«My goodness, it has only happened once … Poverty reigned at home, I tried to be calm. I vented what I had inside at school: I wouldn’t do anything again, but you are wrong to learn ».

What do you think when you read about sinking migrant boats?

“That I could have ended up on a hull too. And my father could have been someone who worked in the fields for 2 cents an hour. ‘

She fought for jus soli …

“Shouldn’t I have? For 10 years I had a green passport, despite not having been to the Ivory Coast and having been born and lived in Italy. I had an identity crisis: am I Italian or not? ».

Is it true what a single mother would do?

“If I didn’t find the person to share my life with, I could do it.”

Is there a character you admire?

«Fiorella Mannoia. I went to his concerts: it transmits energy, positivity, strength. I’d like to look like her. ‘

Tastes and weaknesses of Miriam Sylla.

“After the pandemic, I appreciate even more being in company, chatting, saying something bullshit. I enjoy dressing my way: not too extravagant, but with style and following the mood. Yes, I also want to be nice. Weaknesses? I autoflagello ».

How is the story of coach Mazzanti’s “scratch cards”?

“He’s giving them away for the most difficult exercises: whoever does them better, gets them.”

Everyone wants you to win a medal in Tokyo.

“What people want, sorry, we don’t care. What we want counts. But if we weren’t ready in Rio, we are now reasonably competitive. In case of a podium I will cut my hair and make it blonde. If we win, I’ll tell you a good story ».

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