-Hello, I’m Professor Pittera.
What do you teach?
Fifty years ago, Carmelo Pittera was applying to become a physical education professor at a university in Italy and faced with this response, in which he felt that his vocation was underestimated, he decided to dedicate his life to demonstrate that the intellectual level develops with the movement and that for this, the role of sport and physical activity is not only vital, but essential.
Pittera was born in 1944 in Catania, Sicily, and has always played volleyball. At the age of 28, he became coach of his club, Brumi Catania, in 1972, and promoted to Primera. They won the 1977/1978 championship. He soon became the coach of the Italian national team and set a precedent in his country’s history when he played at the 1978 World Cup and was runners-up after losing the final to Russia. It was he who made Italy a world powerhouse and thanks to him, Argentina’s Julio Velasco triumphed with his team after winning two World Cups and the silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. In addition, with his pedagogical ideas, Pittera also managed to make the minivoley a part of the physical education curriculum in Italy.
Let’s go down that tree that the light is better “, Pittera slips as he poses for Clarín, less than 24 hours after starting his return to his native land, in a tangible demonstration of the passion, dedication and obsession that the coach of the Italian volleyball team during 1978 and 1988, dedicates to every moment of his life.
Why did you decide to implement your educational program in Argentina?
I have a special affinity with this country, a different feeling. Every time I came here, I was very well received by physical education professionals and volleyball coaches. We are particularly interested, together with Enrique Edelstein, the Argentine president of the Carmelo Pittera Foundation, in Argentina being the vanguard in this. We want kids to learn to think for themselves.
How would you synthesize PSICOM?
It can be said that it is a method in favor of boys. PSICOM uses movement as medicine. It uses it to improve cognitive, social and motor skills. There are eight methodologies that are organized in a correlative way according to the eight types of intelligence that American scientist Howard Gardner raises in his theory. Basically, what it does is broaden the cognitive and social motor sphere.
If the movement is medicine, what would be the disease?
Today the problem we have is that the structure of informal physical education has disappeared. Today, children don’t play in the street, they don’t relate to each other randomly, the structures are always fixed groups, and unfortunately, parents, aware that children need movement, take them to the clubs where they find sports schools, and that’s not what children need. They need to play in activities that allow them to prepare themselves for when they are psychologically, socially and physically able to enter the world of sport.
And how old is that?
Until the age of 10, it’s not the sports world that a boy needs. A 5-year-old boy makes tennis in a little school and it’s bad. What interest can you have? It’s not like a 5-year-old boy doesn’t have to go to a club. He has to go, but they have to give the kids what the street used to give him: the game.
How do you explain to a father who wants his son to be the next Juan Martín del Potro?
He can be Del Potro, but we give him tools so that since he is a child he learns to think and understand not only tennis, but sport in general. And so they learn to express themselves, to develop their abilities, so that when the time comes to play tennis, they are ready.
How do parents then decide what sport their children should play?
Parents should not decide that. They are themselves. The children’s own wisdom assures that the choice they make is the right one.
But of course, in a society imprisoned in the excessive eagerness of success, with parents immersed in the search for notoriety for their children, to think of a sports education that is not related to the immediate glory, but rather to the widening of the pyramid of sports development from the grassroots, sounds, perhaps, too utopian and illusory. However, Carmelo Pittera does not undertake a project that he does not think he can achieve, and this is no exception.