Olimpiadi gioventu italiana

For three days youngsters come together, make friends and compete in a very special event: O.G.I. (Olimpiadi gioventu italiana).

The O.G.I. has always been reliant on the goodwill and generosity of the Italian community to ensure that it can continue to provide a platform for all youngsters from the Italian community and their friends (regardless of their ethnicity and origins) to take part in a sporting spectacle irrespective of their ability.

The idea of staging a sporting event for Italian youngsters and their friends within the UK to take part in, regardless of their sporting ability, was suggested at a meeting of the St. Peter’s Italian Youth Club by Tony Tozzi in 1978.

Vittorio Heizzl and the committee took up the challenge and set about inviting all the various Italian Clubs, Associations and Italian Schools within the UK to compete.
In 1980 the first Olimpiade della Gioventù Italiana (UK) was held on the last bank holiday of May at Barnet Copthall Stadium. Over 900 youngsters between the ages of 9-21 from as far afield as Scotland competed over three days in a variety of athletic and sporting events ranging from track & Field, boxing, rugby, football, netball & swimming with Scotland being crowned champions.

Following the success of these games, St Peter’s Italian Youth Club decided to repeat them again every two years on the last bank holiday of May.

In 1984 The Sportsmanship trophy was introduced. St. Peter’s continued to organise and run the games for 1982 & 1984 but then decided that it would have been better if a separate committee with members drawn from the wider Italian community, with its own constitution was established, with the sole aim of running O.G.I.

  • In 1986 The first OGI games organised and run by an independent O.G.I committee took place with Les Rickard as President. The new committee rationalise the age groups and removed certain events, such as boxing, rugby and football from the games.
  • In 1988 Following the untimely death of its President the Les Rickard trophy was introduced.
  • In1990 The O.G.I. games moved from Copthall Stadium to The New River Sports Centre in White Hart Lane.
  • In 1995 O.G.I. sent a team of 30 athletes from the ages of 14-15 to Rome to represent the UK in the bi annual giocchi Della Gioventù, which attracts competitors of Italian descent from all over the world.
  • In 2002 with the help of the Associazione Parmigiani Val Taro O.G.I. secured sponsorship from the Casa di Risparmio di Parma through their charitable organisation Cariparma who continued to sponsor the games in 2004, 2006 and 2008 games.
  • In 2004 the team “Oratorio” from Rome took part in the games.
  • In 2010 Associazione Parmigiani Valceno in collaboration with the Mazzini Garibaldi foundation held a dinner & dance and secured more funds for O.G.I. thus guaranteeing it’s future.
  • In 2010 Londra Sud sent a team for the first time since 1994 to compete in O.G.I.
  • In 2010 O.G.I. celebrated 30 years.
  • In 2011 the Console Generale D’Italia Uberto Vanni d'Archirafi was made Patron of O.G.I.
  • In 2012 Ass. Parmigiani Valceno continued to offer support for O.G.I. and with their help and that of the Ass. Parmense secured more funds from Cariparma.

The aim for the future of O.G.I. is to try to encourage more Italian communities within the UK to send a team to compete. There are massive Italian communities in Bedford, Hoddesdon and Woking and they are just the ones surrounding London who have either never competed or once did, who O.G.I. would like to encourage and help to start up, even if only on a small scale initially, as it happened with Londra Sud, who joined O.G.I. in 2010 with only 30 competitors and then In 2012 they came with almost 80 and finished 3rd.

Currently there are approximately 540 competitors taking part over the three days with close on 2000 spectators visiting the games. The aim for 2014 is to have another team to join O.G.I. and then hopefully by 2016-2018 have one of the teams further afield from London joining O.G.I. Ultimately O.G.I. wishes to celebrate 40 years of O.G.I. in 2020 with close onto 900+ competitors as they had had for the very first games. 
A special thank to Adriano Morini and the O.G.I. committee for all the information provided.

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