Amici del Nidiaci in Oltrarno

In difesa del Bartlett-Nidiaci-Palazzo Santarelli storico spazio dei bambini di San Frediano in Firenze

Lebowski, our football team!

We have just fallen in love and are getting married 🙂

Well, to put it more prosaically, the people keeping the so-called Nidiaci garden open have had the good luck of teaming up with one of the most extraordinary football teams in the world, the Centro Storico Lebowski.

Together, we are opening the first free football school for children in Florence.

Here is what The Guardian had to say about the Lebowski football club.

How CS Lebowski fans set up their own football club … and honoured The Dude

When a group of disgruntled Fiorentina fans were thoroughly fed up by the monied world of Serie A, they decided to establish their own, self-financed football club and pay homage to the Coen brothers’ greatest character

By Chloe Beresford for The Gentleman Ultra, part of the Guardian Sport Network

CS Lebowski
CS Lebowski players and fans. Photograph: Ilaria Festa

If the hotel receptionist thought it was strange that six English people wanted to call a taxi to the Campo Sportivo San Donnino on the outskirts of Florence, that was nothing compared to the reaction from the driver who picked us up. On the way to the home of Centro Storico Lebowski, an amateur football club in the Campi Bisenzio area, the driver made several phone calls to his friends to tell them about this bizarre pickup. Perhaps the strangest part was that the first team weren’t even playing that day. The only match was between CS Lebowski Juniores and the youth side from ASD Maliseti Tobbianese, a club from nearby Prato.

On our arrival at the gate, however, there was no such incredulity. The club had been forewarned about the arriving English party. On a sunny Saturday in October, with the Tuscan hills providing a scenic backdrop, it was an apt setting to watch the beautiful game, and football is never more beautiful than when it is being played in its purest form. The reason for our trip, however, ran deeper than pure aesthetics.

CS Lebowski

Speaking to those involved after the game, it became clear that this was no ordinary provincial club. Their groundbreaking project has been taking place since CS Lebowski was established in its current form in 2010. Their model is based on autogestione (self-management), but this barely scratches the surface of their ethos.

The Ultras Lebowski were unsatisfied with modern football and the distance placed between fans and club. Some, but not all, had been Fiorentina ultras in the past. CS Lebowski evolved from a club called AC Lebowski, who were infamous for being unsuccessful. In one season they conceded 99 goals and were frequently bottom of the league. The idea of a new club was dreamed up by three friends sitting on a bench and, in 2010, these ultras set about realising the dream of a club owned by the fans, with a horizontal structure. This model is unique in Italy; anyone who has a €20 season ticket has a say in the running of the club and the decision-making process is democratic.

A recent documentary on Italian TV perfectly illustrated the passion and principles of those involved with the club. The programme shows fans cooking dinner and eating together before every match, doing work on the pitch, and tells of an overall budget of €70,000 – 70% of which is raised internally through fundraising events. Team photos are always taken with the fans behind them in the Curva Moana Pozzi because the “fans are the players and the players are the fans”.

The fans are united against the excesses of the modern football and say they are in a “battle over who is master of the game”. They see the pushing and pulling between club presidents, sponsors, the football association, government, media and law enforcement and believe that the fans are always the ones who lose out. The supporters at Lebowski think many of their fellow football followers have become “resigned to passivity”. The very nature of their own model means fans are absolutely essential and at the heart of everything they do to make the club function.

A romantic idea this may be, but the remarkable thing about the Grigionero is that they have translated these ideals into success. Starting in the very bottom tier of Italian football, the first team have achieved two promotions in five years. Their model is inclusive, having established three teams in addition to the first team: a women’s team, junior team and an amateur team.

All this in the space of five years. Those involved attribute the success to their model: the idea that the team plays for each other and plays for the people. No one is passive; everyone takes an active part in the running and administration of the club.

Of course, hard work and dedication alone do not make a football club. At any level, funding is key to success. Lebowski are proud of their self-dependency and the fact they do not have to rely on funds from individuals who may want to change the way the club is run. Even the generation of income feeds into the wider objectives of the club, as money is mainly raised through social events and local sponsorship.

Their band of ultras support the team by creating a thrilling atmosphere at every game. They may be relatively few in numbers, but their megaphones, colourful flares and constant noise reflect the absolute dedication to the cause. An exclusive range of merchandise has also been created, which even many larger teams would be envious.

The big stumbling block for Lebowski is that they have been unable to find a suitable home. Their current stadium at San Donnino is their third in five years and they have previously been charged as much as €10,000 per year for basic facilities.

CS Lebowski
CS Lebowski. Photograph: Ilaria Festa

Finding a permanent home is key to their project. They see the stadium as a “bridge between the streets and the team”. At San Donnino, they have plans to extend their resources into the local community so people feel closer of the club. As part of their social project, they hope to extend the use of the field adjacent to the stadium so children in the local area have a safe place to play football in the evenings.

Despite having a strong self-financing business model, their work in the community and their plans for further projects, the club face the prospect of losing their home. They are in competition with another local team for the use of the stadium, which is why, after five years of rebuffing media interest in their unique setup, CS Lebowski are making an appeal. In the past they have fought hard to protect their sanctuary from modern football, shying away from media interest. Their tune has changed however and they feel that it is time to promote their unique club. Any public backing created as a result would serve to enhance their cause.

Their aim is simple: to drum up likes on their Facebook page and enhance their social media presence; and to obtain as many new paying members as possible with an ultimate target of 500 (they are currently just under halfway to achieving this). In opening up their membership, they hope to appeal internationally to those who have also become weary of the negative aspects of modern football. For a €20 subscription, anyone can become part of CS Lebowski, and for this price they will have an equal say into the club’s decision making process, by way of an online vote.

Having witnessed the passion, hard work and community spirit within the club, it would be a huge shame for them to lose their home yet again, especially before they’ve been able to implement the rest of their innovative vision.

• This article appeared first on The Gentleman Ultra
• Follow Chloe Beresford and The Gentleman Ultra on Twitter

Updated: 29 February 2016 — 18:33

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Associazione Amici del Nidiaci in Oltrarno Onlus - email - tel. 349-1575238
C.F. 94 226 290 487 IBAN IT-58-N-06230-02811-000056733234
Frontier Theme
Skip to toolbar