This week, I spoke with Quelly Sousa, running back for the team, who also participates in calcio storico in Florence. I learned about the game through seeing it in a Netflix series titled Home Game which covers different sports unique to countries and cities around the world. The game is a historic part of the city and sees four teams representing the districts of Florence playing the brutal game for glory each year. I was particularly fascinated with Quelly’s involvement in both football and calcio storico because they are somewhat similar in the sense of brutality and teams going to the lengths of physicality that no other sport is even allowed to do in a game. Read on to understand how Quelly sees the comparison of both sports and how he tackles (no pun intended) the potential injuries involved.
How did you come to play football?
I started playing football thanks to a friend, who told me to come and try. I already knew American football, but I did not know that there was a field a few meters from my house, and when I learned about it, I immediately rushed to try. My first memory is that of coach David at that time he was the Offense coach. He did these long balls and I had to run to catch that ball and I immediately fell in love with the sport!
Did you play any other sports before football?
Before football, I was involved with kickboxing.
What is your favorite thing about playing football?
My favorite thing is the team play and the physical contact of the game!
Do you follow the NFL, and do you have any favorite players, and if so, why?
Since I play football I also follow the NFL and my team are the Steelers, but I also sympathize with the Seahawks especially for the QB Russell Wilson. My favorite player is Adrian Peterson because I think he is one of the strongest RB in the history of football.
In your case, being involved with calcio storico, how do you implement skills from one game into the other, and do you find a semblance of comfort in being able to wear protective equipment in football opposed to none when playing calcio storico?
I just train with the boys of calcio storico in Florence but I play the “Palla Grossa” in Prato. Well, the two sports in a certain sense can “resemble” each other (apart from fighting) and above all, in my role which would be to bring the ball behind a line with the help of the whole team. The game is brutal, but you are aware! You can get a punch like a hard tackle. The important thing is that you are aware of it. “Calcio Storico” is brutal but you do it for your city, you do it for your color, you do it for your teammates, and that’s enough to get you on the pitch! For us Florentines, it is an honor to take the field, for football players it is a pleasure to play a game.
Do you have any pregame rituals?
I don’t have precise pre-game rituals; I just know that I’m quite a creature of habit. I arrange the bag in the usual way, I put on the usual clothes and so on, like superstition!