Cristina Chirichella: “Sports change our perspective on ourselves”

Tof the most famous athletes of Italian volleyball, Christina Chiritsela is a young woman who has made the teachings of team sports her own. Today tells them in a book – Heart, Head and Will, ed. ElectaJunior – and on his stage MypersonaltrainerDays, arriving in Milan on September 16 and 17. “To remind the younger athletes that hard times are a part of life”

Originally from Naples, born in 1994, Christina Chiritsela She was an introverted teenager when she left home, friends and family to move to the city and become a professional athlete. At 15, she learned to rely on others – her teammates – and above all on herself, training discipline and awareness until she played for the national team, which she captained from 2017 to 2020.

With the national team he won silver at the 2018 World Cup, gold at the 2021 European Championship and the Volleyball Nations League in 2022: goals that, along with failures, have cemented the belief that volleyball represents a huge training for life.

In his book published by ElectaJunior Heart, Head and WillCristina Chirichella tells her story, addressing all those teenagers who, like her, found themselves facing the world of competitive sports alone.

Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get into volleyball?

I have always played many different sports since I was a child, but when I was 15 I was given the opportunity to leave Naples to move to Rome and train at Club Italia. At first I didn’t imagine that I could become a volleyball player, however, year after year, I realized that volleyball could be something I should aim for. It just felt good. That’s how I made myself the opportunity to play in Serie A.

What do you value most in this sport?

I love having a team, I love being able to share successes and failures and rely on my teammates, I love the feeling of building something together to achieve a goal. This is what made me fall in love with this sport. At first it was all a game, then love and emotion arose.

You say volleyball is a great life teacher. Why;

Because thanks to volleyball I learned not only to trust others, but also myself. I learned to know myself deeply: inside the field I am one person, outside I am another. By nature I am very introverted and thanks to this sport I have learned to open up, to talk about myself, to be aware of my abilities. In addition, sports help you to accept those physical qualities that you did not appreciate at first, but later turned out to be strengths. At 15 I was almost as tall as I am now: my height was a source of annoyance, I didn’t accept it, I was different from everyone. Volleyball brought out my femininity and gratitude for my body, which got me this far and ensured I achieved great results. Sport is a vehicle of values ​​that reminds us to take care of ourselves and accept ourselves as we are.

Pressure to perform, how do you manage it?

If you’re a professional athlete, you grow up under pressure. The important thing is that year after year you learn more and more to manage and deal with it. The truth is that the first to exert pressure are ourselves and we realize this

it is necessary to learn to know one’s limits, but not only: also to recognize the ability of the opponent without blaming oneself

This is the only way to improve without insecurities. In some periods the pressure was very high, luckily in volleyball you play with 14 players: if you struggle there are teammates to help you, you never win and you never fall alone.

What kind of relationships are built within a team?

Over the years I have met many players, including international ones. Some I know will stay in my life forever, I have learned a lot from others even if I only watched them for a few months, and others were role models when I was very young. I understood that it is true when they say “the whole world is one country”: what unites us, beyond cultures, is the love for volleyball, the passion.

What was the biggest sacrifice?

I could tell you I left home at 15, but now I would never come back. As a child it was a sacrifice, of course, but today I am proud of this step. The choices I’ve made don’t weigh me down, like everyone I have days when I’d rather stay at home relaxing instead of training, but I deeply love my job. A great athlete, after all, can be recognized by his discipline.

Have discipline. What is another piece of advice you would give to a little girl who wants to follow your example?

Have fun, especially in the early years but also in important moments, because that’s what you remember. Many victories, in my memories, are also associated with great fun. And then I always say: do what you really love. Because only when you really want something do you get it.

How do you imagine yourself in 10 years?

Good question. In 10 years I would like to see myself with a family, a home, a job. I’m working hard on that last point: I’m finishing my Master’s in Sports Science. I discovered that I love studying anatomy and the human body, but most of all I love helping people. I would like to work on the physical preparation of athletes and help them overcome difficult times. Every athlete has faced one and they have helped me a lot in times of difficulty. I wish everyone had the help I had, physically and mentally.

What an experience it was to write Heart, Head, Will?

It was a very beautiful and introspective experience: I discovered my story and sometimes I started to cry myself! I never thought I would write a book, I’m 29 years old and I don’t think I have the life experience to be able to teach anyone anything, but I had the desire to speak to those teenagers far from home who find themselves facing the sports environment. With my book I would like to give a hand, comfort or simply closeness. In life there will always be ups and downs, the important thing is not to be overwhelmed by events and emotions.

Soon you will also be present at the Mypersonaltrainer Days: in what capacity will we see you?

It is my first participation in an event of this kind, which I consider very important to reiterate the social importance of sport. On stage at Mypersonaltrainer Days I will present the book and address boys and girls talking about my experience. I really hope that my testimony can help even one boy who is facing a difficult moment in sports or even, why not, happiness!

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