A Maradona a mission a beacon of hope of Naples second club
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While football stirs the soul and grips the heart in Naples as much as anywhere else, it also offers much-needed hope to those forming their own stories in the shadow of Napoli’s Scudetto-winning heroes.

In 2009, Afro Napoli United became the city’s second club. Since then, the club has boasted a Maradona in its ranks, successfully lobbied FIFA, and had former players rise to reach Serie A and European competition. Their main objective is to provide housing, jobs, and a secure life for migrants, asylum seekers, and young people at risk of exclusion, and their sporting success is simply a byproduct.

“Football for us is not just a sport, we grew up playing in the street so it is a way of life,” Luigi Di Nunzio, one of the club’s directors, tells BBC Sport.”It is our teacher, it is the way you learn how to get in touch with other people, how to share a place, how to respect each other.”How Naples lived Napoli’s title winIt began with a regular pick-up game.As happens the world over, Di Nunzio and his mates often found themselves short of players, so began asking strangers hanging around outside their office, near Naples’ central station, to join in.

They soon discovered most had travelled from Africa in search of work and opportunities and – since many of the original group worked in social integration and human rights – Di Nunzio and his friends wanted to help their new team-mates find their foothold in the city. “It was great because we noticed it was a two-way relationship, which was great for both of us,” says Di Nunzio.

People with biases or prejudices about migrants started understanding them, getting in touch with them, and suddenly lost their prejudices.

For migrants, it was the most effective way to integrate into society. We think about bureaucracy, housing, food, and jobs. However, they usually form a close community, and the integration stops at a certain level – we rarely observe any real integration into social life or bonding with locals.

We made a lot of friends through football.”