Every child loves sport.

Sport is like a game, it’s fun.

For me, it’s always been a way to feel part of something, whether it was the nature around me or my love for my family.

Some of the oldest and most cherished memories I have are from when I went skiing or biking with my brother. With its simple, universal values, sport is what perfectly frames these memories.

 

Over time, for me in particular, but maybe for everyone, sport also became a powerful medium of communication – one capable of creating and retaining a brand’s credibility and integrity as well as promoting an idea on a global stage.

My family has always been very involved with sport, and I got to work in Formula One.

It was an unforgettable experience that we all enjoyed at full throttle, always looking to the future, since it’s always nearer than you think – it’s just around the corner.

We won World Championships, we spotted Michael Schumacher’s talent and showed it to the world. We accomplished extraordinary feats.

Personally, I would look at the formula cars with as much passion as any of the pilots in the paddock, maybe because I wished I was the one behind the wheel, the one who set a new lap record. But back then I forced myself to do my best to see it as a job, just a job.

 

At the time, though, I also had the privilege of meeting Ayrton Senna, among the racing world’s many prominent personalities. I learned a lot from him, and he was a great inspiration to me, also in the following years.

To become a world-class athlete, you need to specialise at a very young age. There is no other way.

Inevitably, something needs to be excluded from your life. You have to make sacrifices in order to get great results and achieve your goals.

You become expert at something extremely specific, and this can happen at the expense of your own kindness, of some of your passions and aspects of your personality.

Senna was strong enough to avoid adopting other people’s habits. In the daily bustle of flashes, journalists and glamorous places, he always remained the same – thoughtful, calm, religious.

He was as kind as he was technical skilled, in perfect balance. For him, the context was just a context, nothing more.

He would have been special regardless of his job.

 

Today, his approach is part of my own way of thinking.

I always try to take the right line – the one you visualise before the start of the race – and keep it even when the context is changing.

Because, you know, the values and ideas that guided you in the beginning are universal and must not change.

 

Italy is one of the most popular countries in the world.

It’s a perfect melting pot of history, gastronomy and culture. Sport is often a perfect vehicle for this melting pot, and in the popular imagination the vices and virtues of Italian athletes reflect those of the entire Italian population.

We are a country of failed trainers, of amateurs, supporters, and armchair sports fans.

With 2000 years of history, our language is unique, magical. It is the only language in which the word used to describe a small agglomeration of houses is the same one used to describe a nation as a whole – Paese.

These two meanings are two sides of the same coin – the small that represents the big, and the big that must take care of the small.

Our language is like a picture, a picture of us.

Reviving the local economy and fostering social cohesion help paint a portrait of an entire, united nation.

 

Our regions, our provinces, and all the individual valleys that make up our country are a treasure trove of uniqueness, local pride and peculiarities that come together to form a mosaic of a living, communicating country.

Organising big events, even in challenging situations, is a great opportunity to lower barriers erected by history and time.

It may seem a small step, but it is the most important thing of all, especially in moments like this.

Our country is full of wonderful places, small jewels shaped over the centuries. But none of these places can live by beauty alone, we have to bring them alive 12 months a year.

Besides being a moment of national unity, a great international event helps revive the economy and offers an opportunity to improve the quality of services and to put in place sustainable functional infrastructure that respects the environment.

 

It’s not easy, not at the moment.

But it’s important, it’s an opportunity to send positive messages, to pave the way for the future of Italy, a future built on a direct and constructive dialogue between the big and the small, between local communities and bureaucracy, between citizens and public bodies.

The World Championships, which are much anticipated in Cortina and are of paramount significance for our country as a whole, should be the foundation stone on which our future is built – a future in which all the hearts and minds of our Paese can be united.

Whether it be a small agglomeration of houses, or the country as a whole.