Hockey is a sport that thrives on emotions and numbers as well. And the numbers indicate that in Ticino there is not only Umbro Piotta and Lugano: in fact, with more than three hundred youngsters, managed by 35 coaches, Gdt Bellinzona is the second most important youth pool south of the Alps, with dimensions that make you think of an A-team more than a league team. . “It’s not too certain,” says Nicola Penny, the red-and-white first-team coach for ten years who will celebrate his first season debut at Will on Saturday, but he’s also the main man in the young Torrita squad who will celebrate their 50th birthday on Saturday. September 22. “Over the past seven or eight years, we’ve invested particularly in the U9, U11, and School of Hockey categories. We tried to have a higher quality than in the past, with more professional trainers and technicians for each age group, and we also tried to bring some innovations. By letting kids play, but in the truest sense of the word: for example, while shooting themselves down a snowboard imagining themselves as “Lightning” McQueen (the protagonist of a racing car novella, editor), they are actually learning to skate. The results are clear: we have practically doubled the number of children.”
So much so that it was elected the best club in Switzerland two years ago in terms of recruiting young recruits: “And this year we took second place – adds Penny – and lost by only two points from Visp. But we are already in the top ten four or five years ago.”
As a tangible award for the record in the “recruitment designation” rating, last year Gdt received only the visit of national team recruit, Patrick Fisher. The least we can say is that they were all excited. I know “Whistles” well, he is a friend and a very friendly person: he played with the children, charmed them, and they looked at him with wide eyes. Speaking to several of them in the locker room, he insisted how important buddies are in hockey and how important commitment is. A really great day, and I am convinced he left his mark in the heads of these young players.”
However, in Bellinzona, the focus is not only on developing the best talent: hockey is absolutely without restrictions. “Our philosophy is to let everyone play, so not just those who are really good at it and might one day dream of playing for Lugano or Umbro. The ideal assumption, of course, is that we have no pressure on results: no jersey weight, no duty to win. This is a very important factor and let’s not forget about the geographical aspect as well, because the centrality of Bellinzona allows many children easy access to excellent facilities ».
Excellent structures give excellent results. Think Michael Fora, Luca Cereda, Gregory Sciaroni, Samuel Guerra, the late Peter Jaks or his brother Pauli: all the people who started from Gdt who made a name for themselves in the first league, and not just. “That’s right, but in addition to all these names that are known to the general public, there is a whole series of players who have been able to confirm their qualities, such as Giona Bionda who is now playing in B, and therefore at a very high level already.. not to mention all these guys who grew up in Gdt and who after playing maybe in U17 or U20 from Ambrì and Lugano, and then come back to us in the first league, where the quality is certainly interesting. So, yes – concludes Benny – our company is a company that seriously trains many young people, and we are proud of it. So much so that we entered This year a new under-20 team and two under-17 teams are in the tournament, which has never happened before. As proof (smiles, editor) that the sweat you shed when you were a kid leads you to grow.”
fifty cents (and a goat)
It all began on Friday, September 22, 1972. When a group of friends gave birth to Gdt officially in a room at Albergo Turista in Bellinzona. “I was urged to go there and joined the committee, while Remo Barenco, who was not present,” recalls Giampiero Storelli, honorary president and historical memory of Gdt. Among other things, the company was born on the ashes of the Bellinzona Hockey Club, which was forced to declare bankruptcy. “In fact, we must also start from afar – says the 84-year-old former manager of red and white today -. Hockey was born here in Umbro (that was 1937, editor), but immediately the following year, on what I think, HC Sementina was founded. Here, from here we came. Then, for financial reasons, there was a merger with HC Bellinzona, but it actually failed. “
However, even the Gdt startup phase wasn’t the simplest. “The first year we were able to close the accounts in a balanced way, while in the next season we were able to save our finances thanks only to the Spengler Cup. And the reason is quickly explained: that version Slovan Bratislava won against a Russian team (Tractor Chelyabinsk, editor), and I remember that in the goal there was a guy named Dzorilla, who was a phenomenon. When Spengler finished, they suggested we organize a friendly match between Slovan and Ambrì in Bellinzona, on the old open track. We decided to do it taking a little risk, as the rain did not stop. Instead he stopped, and we filled the field, bolstering the balance thanks to that group.”
It will be necessary to wait until 1998, before the indoor stadium opens. “This external path was Gdt’s misfortune… When we went up to the first league we only had the ice at the end of October, and in the first games at first maybe we could resist, but then we could resist and happened to collect ten or even twelve goals ».
It is difficult, without preparation … “Of course, we would go to Varese for training, but it was not possible to do it. And then once that player was not there and that other player couldn’t. We always dreamed of finding a roof: I, who was in Politics, when I was a municipality, one of my goals was to build a covered factory, and they made fun of me. I remember a cute cartoon in the carnival newspaper, in which I was pictured lying on the covered path.”
After a while, the building finally arrived. “As a social democrat – he recalls – I had to compromise with the city council: I proposed building a home for the elderly and a covered path, leaving the underground parking in Piazza del Sol and the hospital. That became private, but at least for the elderly we have a nursing home. We have a covered track and a swimming pool.”
Other times, another world. “Before. I remember an interview that Plinio Gabuzzi gave me thirty years ago in your newspaper entitled: “For a violin and a goat.” He was referring to the memory of a trip to Prato Sornico in the early seventies, for a match against La Vizzara, whose entry ticket was fifty cents, and also gave the right to participate. In the lottery, whose prize was actually a violin.”
Another hockey too. “If I told you that in the eighties, in the second league, on the open track stands, if there was wind, it was unbelievable, maybe there were five hundred spectators? And the radio announced that “that evening at the Torreta circuit, Chiasso will visit Gdt”, while in the newspapers, Duty First, the match reports could still be read ».
In half a century of adventures, Giampiero Storelli will witness many things. “Anecdote? Back then, when the red light was still behind the cages, I remember one of our fans would start playing the goalkeeper, and practically every shot for our team awarded the goal (laughs, Ed). Of course they kicked him out, as the referees said such a thing was unacceptable. What about what happened when the daughter of Jean Sensilla who was our player was born?At that time, he was manager of the Jelmoli store in Piazza Indipendenza and, to celebrate the happy event, he invited the team for an aperitif in the store.Well, we nailed the place for the holidays, and there was also Who slept in the window… We really lived through things in those years. I was a little older than the players, and we were a really happy and kind company. I think that’s also why the club survived.”
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