In this perched village of Pieve de Rogna reigns in the soul of soccer in the countryside. A mythical bastion that has long shone in the landscape of island sport. But now, due to the inability to benefit from a field approval or an exemption, the forty licensees are forced to play Aleria.
Come up to play antisanti, it is something. After Aleria, it takes half an hour to reach the stadium. First this road that allows you to go “green”, between fields of clementines and many turns to gain altitude. Before entering the alleys of this perched village, then this concrete path descends more than a hundred meters to the land, located in the middle of the forest and the maquis, overlooking the majestic valley of Tavignanu.
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“From there, you win half the game,” macagne got out of his car Guillaume Franchi, the president of the club, who had not been back here for several weeks. The last official meeting was on May 8 and was a 4-1 victory over Ghisonaccia in R3. Antisanti was crowned champion. By validating the climb, the leaders knew very well that it would be necessary to make a cross on this land that no longer met the approval criteria to progress to R2.
A forced exile in Aleria
If the folkloric plot preserves the myth of the “hostile” stadium – “of the trap” some would say – the dilapidated state of the facilities is blatant. The surface of the tuff is difficult to see. The access, the enclosure and the changing rooms located in a building that is certainly attractive but painfully suffering from the weather, need some development work.
“We know the rules, the president is angry. We are not trying to create controversy, it is either we refuse to climb, and many players will abandon football or will definitely leave us, or we accept to move to Aleria. It’s time to…”
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Time for what? Standardize the infrastructure? To get an exemption? “Of course we want to benefit from top-notch facilities. A lawn, changing rooms, a covered stand… But we also want an airport, a library, Guillaume Franchi said with a smile. This is the reality of Corsica, of sport in the villages and our case, which is not the only one, shows a true reflection on the status of rural football. We want to point out the difficulties we face on a daily basis. »
“Young people get used to a certain comfort”
Today, very few stadiums in Corsica are still made of tuff. But there is still. Three, four or five… Other clubs have encountered the same problem in recent years. Like AS Capicorsu who had to leave their Luri stadium to play their two seasons in R2 at the Miomo facilities, before being relegated to R3 this year. It’s not easy, but the League is not changing and it’s up to the clubs to adapt or the politicians to act…
“We always play on dirt, in the DH, in the PHA, in the Coupe de France, and now it’s not allowed, plague Jean-Marc Limongi, 43, one of the deans of the team who has always played under the colors of AS Antisanti and has no intention of stopping. Obviously steaks, we’re done! I show you my thighs, I have no skin left. Today’s youth are used to a certain comfort. I understand but it’s sad that we can’t play on our field anymore. The match against Antisanti means a lot to us. It plays an important role in society, everyone comes together, with family, with friends. And then economically, it keeps the village alive. »
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“We have a budget of €20,000, that’s not much. With arbitration fees, the club paying for all the licenses, it goes through quickly. But we’ve always done it that way, that’s what makes us who we are. And 73 years later, AS Antisanti is still there. Even all these obstacles can force us to throw in the towel. But we don’t subscribe,” continues Guillaume Franchi.
At the age of 40, he was in the line of Joseph Alessandrini, Auguste Griscelli, of these leaders fighting for their village. He doesn’t play anymore – “Sometimes I itch, but my knee won’t hold!” » – but very helpful in maintaining the entity. He draws the lines in the stadium, takes care of the licenses, manages the administration, brings everything together, gives the dynamics to this club where the values of mutual aid prevail.
“This land, our grandfathers, with picks, dug. For them, for all the elders, we have to bring it back,” insisted Guillaume Franchi.
For this legacy to continue, the work must now begin. If the 200,000 € is released with the help of the municipality and the community of municipalities of Oriente to allow the repair of the changes of the rooms, the enclosure and the lighting, the replacement of the surface is not on the ‘agenda. The switch to synthetic represents an investment of an additional €700,000. A huge sum – and unimaginable – for a town with about 400 inhabitants and about forty club members.
Couldn’t the solution come from neighboring clubs?
So, how to do? Is a merger possible with the neighboring village of Vezzani (the satde is homologated, the team changes to R4), or with Oriente, even if it means changing minds by pooling resources?
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“To be fair, we have already established a group with Oriente, where our seven young licensees train and compete in official competitions under the Aleria jersey. We contribute in return to provide a mentor. Our relationship with Oriente is important, and we are grateful. If for our young people, but also now for our senior team who can enjoy the stadium, explained the ASA president. For Vezzani, which is only ten kilometers away, although we are in good talks with Thomas Marchioni and the leaders, we know that the merger will remove one of the two names and not our club, or theirs desired such an outcome. »
Fight, that’s what Antisanti players do every Sunday. Resignation is not part of their culture, they will fight to the end for their village, their colors and their stadium which they value so much. But until when? So, for rural football to continue to exist, it will be the turn, in the coming years, of Emilien, Pierre-Paul, Matteo or Andria to take over to defend their bastion but maybe – to be this generation that is would accept a “sacred union” between the plains and the villages to adapt to a sports and economic model that would certainly be more viable.