VICENZA, Italy -- A Vicenza Military Community basketball team played hoops for charity in Milan June 3 to raise awareness to the problem of violence against women and girls.
Coordinated by Jimmy Roddy, director of Sports, Fitness and Aquatics, U.S. Army Garrison Italy, the Titans participated in Lunetta per la Liberta (Free Throws for Freedom), an event organized by the Consulate General in Milan with the Italian Basketball Federation.
The inspiration for the event came after an intern was sexually assaulted at the U.S. Pavilion at the World's Fair (Milan Expo) during summer 2015. The attack and its aftermath brought the issue of sexual assault to the attention of the consulate. The basketball tournament focused on the idea that women and girls should be free from the fear of stalking, harassment and violence, and proceeds go to a local women's charity.
Vicenza's Titan team members were Andre Davis, Anthony Crowder, Martavious Fleeks, Tony Reese, Henry Williams Jr. and Kaffie Clark. Clark is the USAG Italy Sexual Harassment/Assault Responses & Prevention program coordinator here.
"This was a grassroots event that helps tackle a serious problem like violence against women," said U.S. Consul General Ambassador Phillip Reeker.
About 1,500 people attended the event that took place over a four-day period and included youth basketball teams from the Lombardia region. When the event was over, the president of the local women's shelter was presented with the proceeds.
Although the game wasn't about winning or losing, Clark said the Titans were in stellar form on the court, scoring three-pointers from beyond the arc and dunking with skill and finesse that drew cheers from the stands. She added that the event was a testament to building goodwill between the United States and Italy.
"The public has a good view of the Soldiers, and it was an opportunity (of) 'sports diplomacy,'" she said. "I have committed to continuing the networking opportunities gained from this event, and I will work diligently to build a reciprocal relationship between the Public Health Organizations in Milan, the VMC SHARP Team and Family Advocacy Program.
The future holds the promise of joining forces in the fight against sexual assault and violence toward women."