Sergio Mezzina is the Director of the Ac Reggiana Academy since last July. During this span, the teams of the Academy are dominating almost all the leagues they are taking part and now can be proud of another distinguished prize: to be into the prestigious “Torneo di Viareggio 2017” with the Berretti team.
Mr. Mezzina is a man of few words and a lot of substance. Today’s interview? It’s the exception that confirms the rule
Mr. Sergio Mezzina how did the opportunity to play in the Torneo di Viareggio beckon?
«The truth is that we received an official invitation by the organization committee. I’m not even stressing how rewarding is this thing to you. It goes without saying that when you receive an invitation like this, to a youth tournament of such magnitude, it means that the brand “Reggiana” is becoming more and more recognizable. Moreover, there’s an economic effort by the club’s ownership in letting us taking part to the tournament. The property as a whole was up to raise the chance of being part of the “Viareggio” with no hesitations at all».
When did you receive the invitation?
«Before Christmas. I remember that day pretty well. We talked about this opportunity with the club’s management and the ownership, and we all agreed how this opportunity would be beneficial for the whole organization. Hence the club’s ownership decided to support this “venture” also under the financial standpoint».
What is the meaning for Ac Reggiana of taking part to the Viareggio?
«Well, from a technical standpoint is pivotal because it will be a huge opportunity for the lads to face the best of the best at youth level and grow from this. Then there’s a corporate side which goes under the element of the increased profile for the club itself coming from taking part in a tournament like this. Finally, there is also the opportunity for some talented young players to make a name for themselves on a stage like this. It is true that at Primavera level there are teams that are out of reach for us nowadays, but there are several others with whom we could play at the same level and hold our own. All in all, for Reggiana and these youngsters it will be a unique opportunity to see where we’re at this point of our growth».
For you, in particular, being the Director of the Academy, what is the meaning of watching the Berretti team at the Torneo di Viareggio? Taking into account that all the Academy teams are dominating – or close to dominate – the national youth leagues they are taking part to?
«For me personally this will be a “second time.” In fact, I have been already once to the Torneo di Viareggio when I was working for Taranto. I remember it was an incredible experience. I remember we played against Roma and Florenzi was playing for the. We were brutalized as we lost 1-5, but in the end, it was something incredible to watch my team playing in such a tournament. I firmly believe that Ac Reggiana has been invited to all the good things it was able to make at Academy level and not because Sergio Mezzina is the Director of it. The truth is that it was the club’s ownership as a whole to have given true importance to the Academy. For me personally, it is something special to see the Berretti going to the Viareggio. Needless to say, I am overwhelmed. But what’s even more overwhelming is to saw the emotion and the joy in the kids’ eyes when we told them that they were going to play in the Torneo di Viareggio. It was a surprise for them, and they were through the roof with happiness. The kids’ joy was my most significant win».
What is your objective at the tournament?
«Well, the first one is to showcase our best talents. The second one: to assess at what level we’re at. The third? To play as hard as anybody against all the teams we will face. I am convinced that the organization and the temper that coach Paolo Zanetti has been able to give to the lads will pay its dues to come tournament time. I’m convinced we will do well».
Mr. Mezzina what is more important for the player on an occasion like this: the result or the process of growth?
«Well, it is the same for the league the Berretti is playing. It’s a league “in between.” It’s Academy football, but it’s played by kids who, regarding age, are right below the first squad. The final results have its own importance, we can’t deny it. But, it has to be achieved through a constant growth by the lads. Technically, physically and, more importantly, under the character standpoint. This should be the most important thing: to form the player’s personalities. Taking part in these competitions is the best and fastest way to improve under every point of view for a player».
Do you believe that this is the right reward for all the work that coach Paolo Zanetti has done so far?
«Yes, absolutely. It’s a reward for Paolo and his staff who is competent and completely dedicated to the club to make this team grow in the proper way».
In a key moment like this, is there any message you want to give?
«I am saying this: it’s not easy to convince everybody when you are new to a place. What I’m trying to deliver is this: when you do your job with love, passion, dedication, it’s like wearing the shirt of the city you live in and the club you work for. This is why I am hoping to convince the majority of the people who follow the club. All, though, in all honesty, the first ones I am trying to convince are the people who work for me, starting from the Director of Football, Mr. Andrea Grammatica, and the individuals who are working with me every single day. These are excellent professionals, and they are the personification of the fact that when you feel comfortable in working with your mates, it is much more rewarding to share moments like this. There are nothing more beautiful that sharing all the moments of joy with the people who work with you on a daily basis».